The advent of the Gresham “test run” CBC prompted someone to ask me where Oregon should add new CBCs to cover areas that need it. There are two really obvious places:
1. Hermiston/McNary. By far the biggest hole. No count touches the Columbia between the mouth of the John Day River and Tri-Cities, Washington. This is over 100 miles. The McNary-Umatilla area is the best birding on the Columbia east of Multnomah County and also contains Cold Springs NWR, some good spots along the Umatilla River and the Columbia east and west of the dam, and some ag land and open space to the south. It is stuffed with waterfowl and raptors. It’s low elevation, too, with a few wintering warblers. My guess is that there are enough birders within 50 miles to do that count. Hey, I even have a nice circle drawn !
2. Treasure Valley: something in the Ontario area. There are no counts touching the Snake River lowlands between Nampa and Lewiston, except for the new Pine Valley count around Richland in Baker County, which at least covers some of the backwaters and lowlands. Two counts ran for a short time in the 1990s, Vale and Lower Owyhee. Both were short-handed and short-lived. Something based in the Ontario-Payette area would likely draw a few more people and have access to more habitat.
Other possibilities include:
3. A restart of Gold Beach, which ran about a dozen years in the 1960s and 70s. This would be tough, as the south coast counts are already gasping for observers. If we can’t keep Coos Bay, Reedsport and Port Orford going annually (all three are having trouble getting enough observers), adding more would not be a good idea.
4. Diamond Lake or somewhere around there. This was run casually once or twice in the 1980s or early 90s. It would be a nice data comparison to Santiam Pass, which ran long enough to generate some data. There are probably enough observers to do this, as Roseburg does not have many nearby counts.
5. Waldport-Yachats. A nice area but mid-coast observers are pretty committed already. Doesn’t add much in terms of different habitat coverage. The same applies to Pacific City, which ran for a couple of years in the 1990s.
6. Lakeview. Great idea. It has actually been done a couple of times. But no way to get enough observers there.
7. A restart of Fort Klamath. This is a sort of dark horse. It was run decades ago. It would probably have some interest from K Falls, Bend and maybe Medford and Roseburg. Get three people from each of those and you just about have a count, given the limits of winter roads. Quite a varied and interesting area.
The bottom line is that counts can only be done where birders are interested in doing them. That’s why NW Oregon is cheek-to-jowl with counts. Our first priority should be keeping existing counts alive IF their existence is providing useful data for the CBC database (and if birding there is fun).