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Christmas Bird Counts Described As Best Ever

Birdwatching

Birdwatchers gather to watch as a flock of starlings fly in front of Glastonbury Tor as the daylight fades on the Somerset Levels on November 18 in Somerset, England. The huge gatherings best seen at dusk and biggest in winter, have been boosted by the recent arrival of thousands of birds coming to Britain’s milder winter climate to escape the harsh cold of the European continent, especially from Scandinavia. The birds can feed up to 20 miles from their winter roost but return each evening to give safety in numbers, information exchange (if some come back from a good feeding area others may learn of it) and warmth at night through roosting together. (Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Christmas Day bird count on Chicago’s lakefront for this year, and the North Shore count on Monday, are being described as two of the best ever.

WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller talked to veteran birdwatcher Joel Greenberg, who compiles the count every year.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

“It actually was, maybe, the best count we ever had,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg has been watching and counting birds on Chicago’s lakefront on Christmas Day for 44 years.

This year, he and other volunteers saw birds they usually don’t see.

On the North Shore count the following day, they spotted an old favorite.

“One of our highlights was a barred owl. Actually we had two, and we just don’t get them very often. There aren’t that many on the Des Plaines River. There’s probably a few pair,” Greenberg said.

He says they looked where they’d seen a barred owl before, and had just about given up on seeing one this year.

“When we heard it, and it says, ‘Hoo-hoo! Hoo-hoo-hoo! Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you?’”

Greenberg says the birders counted at least 72 species.

The Christmas Bird Count runs from Dec. 14 and Jan. 5. Bird counts are held at various locations statewide, as well as in borderline locations in Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri.