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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 Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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