Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Free Fiction: The Christmas Count


The sky over the river is already light and I’m still six miles from his house -- ten more minutes. Provided I don’t get caught at the tracks by some goddamned, two-hundred-car freight train. Ron will have his audio equipment out, but it won’t do us any good. Not this late. Once the sun’s up, even a set-up as good as Ron’s is pretty much useless for calling in owls. Great-horned, screech, barred; usually Ron and I can call in at least two out of the three. Not this year. Maybe someone else in the McCarron count circle will have owls on their list, but it won’t be us. Two years ago the count had none at all, and Clover County beat us by two species. Two lousy species.
For over a century the Audubon society has sponsored a Christmas Bird Count, in which ordinary people help take a census of birds throughout the Americas. In the not so near future biotechnology may allow Christmas counters to spot birds that haven't been seen in decades . . .

Read "The Christmas Count" by David B. Coe.

Image: Passenger Pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius, from Orthogenetic Evolution in the Pigeons, 1920 (from Wikimedia Commons)

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