On January 1, Limberlost State Historic Site hosted a Christmas Bird Count (CBC). It was a great way to start the New Year and one that would sure have pleased Gene Stratton-Porter. This is the oldest citizen science program in the world. The data collected will become part of a
national database that helps provide data on bird population trends. This was the 116th National Audubon CBC and the first time that the Limberlost area was part of a national count. Twenty-eight birders, some first timers and some old hands helped with the count.
This was formerly the Adams County CBC that was begun in the 1970s. It was a county count
that was turned into the Indiana Audubon Society. There were five of the original counters who participated, they were: Larry Parker, Janet Parker, Earlene Moser, Dorothy Moser, and Elaine Bluhm.
The National Audubon Society requires that a circular area with a diameter of 15 miles be
surveyed. The new CBC is called SANJO and was named by Site Manager Randy Lehman. SANJO stands for “S”outhern “A”dams County, “N”orthern “J”ay County, and “O”uabache State Park. The new circle includes the Loblolly Marsh, Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve, Ouabache State Park, Munro Nature Preserve, a lot of the Wabash River in Adams and Wells Counties, Limberlost Creek, Loblolly Creek, Music of the Wild Nature Preserve, the Limberlost Bird Sanctuary, Rainbow Bottom, Rainbow Lake, Lake of the Woods, the old stone quarry, the old gravel pit, Fields Memorial Park and many Amish farms.
Participants came from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis to Marion to help with the count. The
Mississinewa, Stockbridge, Robert Cooper and Amos Butler Audubon Chapters were
represented along with the Indiana Audubon Society and the Limberlost staff.
With the unseasonable warm temperatures in December, we had some unusual birds that are
not normally in Northeast Indiana in the winter. Becca James found four killdeer, Don Gorney located a woodcock at the Loblolly Marsh. There was a single cedar waxwing and a flock of robins in Geneva. This year there is a flock of about 400 Sandhill Cranes in and around the Limberlost Swamp Wetland Preserve. With the waters open, there were herring gulls, ring-
billed gulls, a pied-billed grebe, a hooded merganser and northern pintail ducks that were seen. Our winter birds were also counted: dark-eyed junco, northern harriers, horned larks and Lapland longspurs.
A tradition with many CBC is a chili lunch. Limberlost hosted the chili luncheon. Many of the
Mississinewa counters brought covered dishes, including the great ham sliders by Cheryl Bell
and the wonderful owl cupcakes by April Raver.
A special nod to Don Gorney who tallied an incredible 313 species of birds in Indiana in 2015
and began his 2016 list at Limberlost. Alexandra Forsythe, who was the first Indiana Young
Birder of the Year in 2013, participated and is a shining example of the next generation of
birders. Thank you to all that participated from ages 16-89; each of your efforts made a