Green Blog loaded that video with a reminder of the value of this annual tradition. While not quite as exotic-heavenly as work coming out of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that we have pointed out here and here, nor even work that our own interns have been carrying out, this more prosaic activity is the essential contribution of the modern bird-lover:
Binoculars at the ready, a small group of birders fanned out through the field, searching for a brown-and-gray bird that was stubbornly refusing to show itself.
We were looking for a clay-colored sparrow, a rare visitor to the East Coast that had been spotted in this field at the Marshlands Conservancy in Rye, N.Y., over the last week. But while a few sweeps of the field turned up a variety of birds — including seven other species of sparrows — the clay-colored sparrow remained out of sight.
As participants in the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, we were eager to add this unusual species (check out the video above, posted at YouTube by a professional photographer), to the local tally. But we couldn’t spend all day looking for it. We had to cover the area thoroughly and keep count of every individual bird we saw. In the Christmas Bird Count, every bird counts, no matter how rare or common.