West Pasco Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count yields three newcomers
NEW PORT RICHEY - Birders who braved wet and chilly weather finished their day in triumphant fashion during the West Pasco Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count. The group spotted more than 160 species, including three never before in the Pasco count. The birds new to the count were the razorbill, the red-breasted nuthatch and the black tern. A final tally on the number of birds isn't complete, said Ken Tracey, an Audubon member who helped organize the count, which was held Saturday. This year marked the 113th Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count, though the Pasco group didn't start participating until the 1970s.The Audubon Society says birds are indicators of the overall health of the environment, and that the data collected during the annual Christmas counts can provide insight into the long-term health of bird populations and their surroundings. Although the event is called the Christmas Bird Count, it doesn't have to take place on Christmas Day. Each Audubon chapter can choose when to hold its count, as long as the date falls sometime from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5.