Frigid temperatures weren't enough to keep Ryan Stauffer from partaking in the Christmas Bird Count on Saturday at Succop Nature Park.
The event, originally scheduled to be for children, was not attended, likely due to the single-digit temperatures. Still, Stauffer, the park's environmental educator, walked the park to participate in the 117th annual Christmas Bird Count.
The count, which is run by the National Audubon Society, is the longest-running of its kind in the nation. Its purpose is to gather data on birds for research and other scientific purposes.
“The more points of data you have, the more accurate your predictions or assumptions will be,” Stauffer said.
The data will add to Stauffer's vast knowledge of birds and other wildlife in the area. He said there are more than 200 species of birds that come through Pennsylvania each year.
“Some are permanent residents, some are just passing through,” Stauffer said.
The most common species of birds in the region are juncos, jays, robins and the tufted titmouse. With 80 different kinds of tree species in Pennsylvania, these and other species of birds have more than enough food.
“Even though it's the dead of winter and it seems like they'd be starving, they're not,” Stauffer said.
Even when environments are difficult for birds, though, their ability to fly allows them to relocate more easily than other animals. This means they have little trouble finding habitats that suit them.
According to Stauffer, birds populate in biodiverse areas where food is plentiful. These areas also are advantageous to humans.
“A place that is full of birds, that's also a nice place for humans to live,” he said.
Humans can benefit from birds in other ways.
“Birds tell us a lot about climate change,” Stauffer said. “As climate warms you're going to have birds that can now tolerate northern climates, so their range will shift.”
Species of birds who have adapted to the climate change by migrating north include the Carolina Chickadee and the Black-capped Chickadee.
For more information on the Christmas Bird Count, visit http://www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count.