The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Courtesy photo.

N.H. Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Where: Various locations at “count circles” across Nashua and Hollis; dinner is in the Brown Lane Barn at Beaver Brook, 117 Ridge Road, Hollis
When: Saturday, Dec. 30, from dawn till dusk
Cost: Free to sign up for the Bird Count; $5 fee to attend the dinner
Visit:, email or call 429-2537 to sign up
Laconia’s count will be held Sunday, Dec. 31 and there is count scheduled for Jan. 1 on the Isles of Shoals. 

Bird watch
How the state keeps track of its birds

By Ethan Hogan

 Twenty-one cities and towns in the Granite State are in the midst of participating in a global effort to count and record bird sightings, passing the data along to the National Audubon Society so it can catalog the types of birds that live in each region and track how those populations change over time.

“It’s a kind of endurance birding. It’s an all-day event. We are outdoors from before dawn to after sunset, driving around and hiking around, counting birds. We have a warped sense of fun, like a marathon runner,” said Jim Kegley, an organizer of the event.
Kegley has seen more than 25 bird counts during his time in New Hampshire, and he’s been organizing the Nashua count since the early 1990s. While most of the 21 participating towns have already done their counts, the ones in Nashua and Hollis are happening Saturday, Dec. 30, from dawn to dusk. 
Each city and town is given a 15-mile radius where teams are sent out to count birds. For participants whose homes are located in their assigned area, they can simply count the birds in their backyard. Kegley, however, has been counting birds since he was young and said he likes the adventure of getting out there. 
“Every location has its potential to have certain kinds of birds because birds find and adapt to different habits to thrive,” said Kegley.
The majority of people who make it out to these counts are dedicated and passionate birders, according to Kegley. But every year he says they see a few new faces. 
“People who do the count are very friendly and welcoming so if someone wanted to tag along for the day, that’s how I started. I just joined someone that was already doing it,” said Kegley.
The number of birds and their species are recorded by the counters in their designated areas. Kegley usually spends time near Nashua’s downtown, where he has seen a surprising increase in the population of a particular predatory bird. The peregrine falcon has made its way into downtown Nashua since Kegley started doing the count. He said peregrines followed the pigeons into downtown and have made their homes there ever since.
“Peregrine falcons have followed [the pigeons] into cities and established their reach in urban areas,” said Kegley.
Rare species of birds are a special treat during the count. Kegley recorded the first ever inland harlequin duck in the area. The relatively rare bird was on the Nashua River behind an office building during a count 15 years ago. The species is normally found on the Seacoast.
“Seeing a rare bird is also a sort of feather in your cap,” said Kegley.
The Nashua-Hollis area is home to 60 species of birds, some more rare than others. He said it’s not uncommon to spot perching birds like blue jays, cardinals and chickadees along the Merrimack River. 
The information is compiled at the end of the day when all the birders meet at Brown Lane Barn at Beaver Brook. Guests are welcome to come and watch the birding experts log their data and exchange stories of the day.
“People get together and reflect on the experience of the day and tell stories about what happened. … There’s a certain competitiveness that we have. For the people who have been doing it for a long time, there is a certain amount of pride and ownership to doing your counts,” said Kegley.
Manchester’s bird count was held Dec. 16 and featured many of the same species that Kegley sees in the Nashua and Hollis areas. 

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu