A Christmas Bird Count Story - Part 3

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

This is the final installment of my first "unique" Audubon Christmas Bird Count in northern Missouri. (This story is revamped from an earlier edition.)

Northern Shrike during an Audubon Christmas Bird Count
My first Northern Shrike, from my first Audubon Christmas Bird Count

After we adjusted following the inseam incident, we had to finish our count around Mozingo Lake.

The Final "Count"-down

We approached Mozingo Lake from the east with the intent to find Snow Buntings. These little white diamonds rarely visited the area, and we were responsible for the zone most known for finding them.

As we entered the recreation area, we encountered the vicious, yet adorable, Northern Shrike. Why is the Northern Shrike vicious? It is a Passerine that attacks and impales its prey on barbs, spines, thorns, etc. This was a great sighting for the count, and we celebrated briefly before moving on. I privately continued the celebration for another 20 minutes, as this was a "life-bird" and is pictured above!

Merely a Flesh Wound

As we approached the edge of the water, we encountered a group of Trumpeter Swans! These birds always bring great joy to me with their contrasting beauty and unusual feeding styles. After I marked down the swans on the tally sheet, this wild day found a new gear.


Doc threw that white Ford Taurus into reverse and gunned it. As we sped backward, the car jumped and thumped. We glanced back through the rear window saw nothing. Doc grumbled something, threw the car in drive, and gave it the goose! I turned back to look once more as we pulled away. It was then I realized what had happened; we hit a tree. It was not a mighty tree, luckily, or the Taurus would have experienced its last Christmas Bird Count. We merely bent the nimble tree over with the rear bumper. Do not fret, the tree survived. I think.

In the Name of Science!

As we entered our final zone of the lake, I saw several small flashes of white. It was our target, the Snow Buntings! This was my first time seeing these arctic breeders, and helped to spark a passion that drives me to this very day!

We may have driven into some restricted areas to view all these marvelous birds, but as we left the scene Doc exclaimed into the night:

"Science is done for all, and to all a good flight!"

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