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Phyllis Moss sets up her scope at the edge of Union Bay during the annual Seattle Audubon bird count Saturday. It’s called the CBC, Christmas Bird Count, and takes place the first Saturday every year after Christmas.

Barely out of their cars before dawn, the Audubon bird-count leaders were taking stock of crows flying over the parking lot near Union Bay.

Expert birder Connie Sidles said, “that’s 42, 44, 51, 52, 78, 79.”

Appropriately, they’re probably “from the cemetery” nearby.

At No. 126 Sidles declared, “I’m tired of counting crows. I release my crow responsibility.”

Breaking into groups, the Seattle Audubon Society’s annual CBC (Christmas Bird Count) took place Saturday with about 200 volunteers in 14 areas on both sides of Lake Washington.

The data they collect will be used to assess the bird population, the impact of growth and to help guide conservation actions.

Phyllis Moss headed to the water’s edge at Union Bay Natural Area, a bird refuge once called the Montlake Fill, near Husky Stadium. The former urban landfill closed and was capped in 1966.

In the first three hours, Moss’ group of four positively identified 38 species.

She set the ground rules. “No pishing”– mouth sounds to draw out the birds.

“No playback” — no electronic bird calls from phones or other devices.

It’s all ears and eyes. Birds are often heard before seen and then counted.

Nationally the bird count runs through Jan. 5, with thousands of volunteers.


Birds of a feather, mallards, gather together Saturday on branches in the Union Bay Natural Area, formerly an urban landfill called the Montlake Fill, near Husky Stadium.


A song sparrow walks along a log behind the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture.

For more photos, visit the gallery.