Presidio bird count results announced

February 12, 2009 1:12:01 PM PST
The Presidio Trust announced recently the results of a bird count done in December by birdwatchers in the Presidio area of San Francisco as part of an annual census conducted by the Audubon Society.

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The birdwatchers counted 7,301 birds representing 111 different species during a search on Dec. 30, Presidio Trust spokesman Clay Harrell said Wednesday.

The search was part of the Audubon Society's national 2008 Christmas Bird Count, which took place in various parts of the country between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.

The count is used by scientists to study how bird populations are changing, usually in response to changes in land use and habitat caused by humans.

One of the significant local findings in this year's count was that only one Surf Scoter, a common sea duck, was found around the Presidio.

Surf Scoters usually number in the hundreds in the area, and the drop in numbers may be the result of the massive oil spill by the Cosco Busan container ship into the San Francisco Bay in November 2007, according to Presidio officials.

The numbers from the Presidio bird count were added to the amount for the broader San Francisco area, which totaled 50,416 birds from 172 species, Harrell said.

The national totals will not likely be available until the summer or fall, according to Garrison Frost, spokesman for Audubon California.

About 200 bird species are believed to inhabit the Presidio, from year-round species like Anna's Hummingbirds and Great Egrets, to migratory species like Violet-green Swallows and Red-throated Loons.

"The goal is not to have an exact number of all the birds," Andy Kleinhesselink, a biological science technician with the Presidio Trust, said in a prepared statement.

"Rather, it is to get an overall sense of how abundant birds are in the Presidio, in San Francisco, or in whatever area the count is being done," Kleinhesselink said.

The Presidio Trust was established by Congress in 1996 to oversee the Presidio, an urban national park located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1,500-acre area includes a 300-acre historic forest, as well as rare and endangered plants and wildlife.

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