Young Birders Brave the Snow for Christmas Bird Count

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Snow and cold didn't stop half a dozen Hall County kids from checking out Nebraska's winter bird population.

Young birders like Joshua Colbrun weren't just looking, they were also counting.

"Today we're actually looking for different types of birds to see how many birds and what types of birds or if there's any new species we haven't heard of," he says.

The Crane River Young Birders Club was taking part in Nebraska's first ever Christmas Bird Count for Kids. Jill Liske-Clark, the club's leader, says the bird count has been around since 1900, but wasn't always kid-friendly.

"In the last 100-some years almost all of those have been conducted by adults and kids haven't even been really welcome," she says.

That's changed now as parents and educators look for ways to get kids active and outdoors.

"It's just fun because if you see [a bird] and you've never seen it, it's just something new that you're going to learn," says Colburn.

You might think that a bird count doesn't make sense when it's winter, but experts say there's all kinds of activity, even when it isn't the spring or fall migrations.

"Birding is a year 'round pursuit and we have different birds depending on the time of year," says Liske-Clark. "Some of them, like the ones now, are only here in the winter, like our dark-eyed juncos."

And though the club was just formed this summer, the young birders are already identifying what they see.

"They're old enough to have some skills, they can run the binoculars, you can point out the bird in the tree, they can find it, but yet they still have so much enthusiasm and curiosity," says Liske-Clark.

With their Christmas count in the books, the group is looking forward to visiting the Sandhills in the spring to see prairie chickens do their mating dance.