"Ortego hopes this year’s CBC will get better weather, turnout" by: Jessica Shepard

   This year’s Mad Island Marsh National Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) starts bright and early Monday, Dec. 17, in a 15-mile-diameter counting circle.
   Some birders start at the crack of dawn and others even earlier.
   “Some of our birds are nocturnal, so we start the count a little after midnight,” said CBC compiler Brent Ortego.
   “That’s how we’re able to get our counts in for owls and nighthawks, if we find any.”
   Last year, Matagorda County took first place in North America with 220 individual species of birds.
   The Matagorda CBC has also placed first 20 times for the most species in the US and 17 times for the most individual species with the highest counts in North America.
   Skilled birders from expert to novice count over a variety of terrains and habitats all day by car, foot or boat.
   The CBC features extensive native grasslands, brushlands, floodplain forests, beaches and coastal marshes.
   Residents are encouraged to help keep species diversity high during winter months by providing feeding areas for birds.

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