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Christmas Bird Count to Bring Duquesne University Team, Other Volunteers to Murphy’s Bottom

While others are involved in last-minute shopping expeditions, gift-wrapping or baking, a stalwart team of Duquesne University professors and students will join the annual Christmas Bird Count, a national initiative of the Audubon Society.

The count, which is in its 111th year, provides a survey of birds across North America and in parts of Central and South America within two weeks of Christmas. The effort helps ornithologists determine trends in bird diversity from year to year.

This year might provide opportunity for some special sightings of migratory birds, according to Dr. Brady Porter, associate professor of biology and a genetic specialist. Because of colder temperatures in northern parts of the world, some migratory birds that normally would not be in Western Pennsylvania have moved farther south than usual. On the other hand, other birds that generally would spend their winters in the south could be overwintering on the northern fringes of their fly routes, which would include Western Pennsylvania. These changes bring the opportunity to spot the pine siskin, red crossbill and boreal chickadee or the bald eagle, Northern mockingbird, Eastern bluebird and hermit thrush.

The count will start at the first light, with the die-hard naturalists Porter and Duquesne colleagues Drs. Kyle Selcer and Sarah Woodley, and several students listening for owls.

Where: Murphy’s Bottom on the Allegheny River near Freeport

When: Saturday, Dec. 18, from about 6:30 a.m. to noon

Information: For post-count interviews or to shadow the counters on Saturday, please contact Public Affairs.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.