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Christmas Bird Count affected by pandemic, too

Annual event curtailed in region

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Sacramento Digs Gardening

Anna's hummingbird
This Anna's hummingbird was photographed around Clear Lake
by Vicki Miller during the 117th Annual Christmas Bird Count.
(Photo courtesy

Normally at this time of year birders and other wildlife lovers would be well into the traditional Christmas Bird Count, an annual effort hosted by the Audubon Society. This year marks the 121st such count.

Counting is a group effort, with coordinators assigned to specific areas known to attract a lot of migrating birds. Each compiler is responsible for coordinating the count in a 15-mile circle, staffed by volunteers.

In an all-day effort, the volunteers count every bird they see along an established route in the designated circle.

California typically hosts 120 Christmas Bird Count locations. One of the more active ones, not surprisingly, is in the Sacramento area.

However, this year, because of the COVID-19 risk in gatherings, some of the "circles" have been canceled, including the main Sacramento circle and the ones in the Marysville and Stockton areas. Other counts are being conducted in accordance with social distancing and other safety guidelines.

Circles indicating availability include the Folsom Lake area, Lincoln, Grass Valley and Wallace-Bellota, but no dates are listed. The Sherman Island count will be New Year's Day, the Calaveras one on Jan. 2. (The latter is in need of experienced birders.) The Putah Creek circle count (near Winters) was held Dec. 20.

Anyone who would like to participate is asked to contact the circle coordinator directly via email. Pop-ups with contact information are on this map .


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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