Local ‘birders’ join 123rd Annual Christmas Bird Count in Kent Co. – FOX 17 West Michigan News

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It’s a unique hobby, but an important one. FOX 17 talked with local bird watchers Saturday about how what they do contributes to the ecosystem.
“Keeps you busy. I get to go explore outside, so what’s more fun than that?” said Spencer High, a birder.
High has been bird watching, or birding, since 2014.
“I started birding right after I graduated from college,” High explained. “I had six months off, so I just started watching the bird feeder at my parents’ house and got amazed by the amount of birds I haven’t seen before.”
High joined the 123rd Annual Christmas Bird Count in Kent County Saturday. It’s a day where avid birders around North America count the individual birds in their area.
“All of the data that’s collected on this one specific day will be used by ecologists and conservation biologists as a way to figure out what areas of the United States are best suited for preservation,” he explained.
Tom Leggett told FOX 17 that he’s been birding for decades.
“I’ve been birding since I was a kid in elementary school…I grew up on the pond behind the dam in Big Rapids,” Leggett added.
He says Saturday’s count is more important than you may think.
“People need to be aware of what’s out there with climate change and everything else. People need to be aware. It brings awareness,” Leggett explained.
John Garbini started birding in the summer of 2022. He joined the annual bird count for the first time on Saturday.
“A couple weeks into bird watching I realized how many different bird species, especially the number of birds we can see in just a few-hour hike, and I was just blown away,” Garbini added.
Garbini says you can see anywhere from 30-to-40 different species of birds on these hikes.
If you’d like to get involved, you can head to the Grand Rapids Audubon Club’s website or check out your local nature center.
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