The Pennsylvania Annual Migratory Count (PAMC) is part of the North American Migratory Bird Count. The Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology (PSO) organizes the count each year. Most counties have com-pilers who organize local participants to ensure good coverage of their county. However, some counties do not yet have compilers. Participation in any county is appreciated, even in those counties where there is not a compiler.
What? The PAMC is a one-day survey of the birds that migrate through the state. It is a quick snapshot of the spring seasonal movement of birds spending their time in Pennsylvania. The PAMC is part of a larger continent-wide migratory bird survey and a celebration of the bird migration event.
When? The PAMC is traditionally held on the second Saturday in May when many birds are migrating through the state. It correlates with the International Migratory Bird Day, which is celebrated in many countries that share our birds. Check the PSO website to make sure of the date for each year. Participants are free to roam their favorite county birding locales at any time during the 24-hour period, starting at 12:01 a.m., counting every bird that they find until midnight. This includes attempting to find owls and nightjars like whip-poor-wills at night.
Who? All birdwatchers are welcome to be involved. This is a great way for beginners to gain experience by participating. Beginners may survey birds on familiar turf, like their backyard or property, or may accompany a birder with more experience.
Where? The PAMC is based on counties. This birding event is similar to the Christmas Bird Count (CBC), except that it is done on a county basis, rather than a 15-mile diameter CBC circle. Participants go out in their designated areas to identify and count all of the birds they can find on that day. Participants are invited to visit their neighborhood, their favorite local birding spots, public lands, such as state game lands, state and national forests and state and national parks, as well as county and municipal parks. You can go any place where you can find wild birds. People also are invited — in fact, encouraged — to go to other counties where there may not be a lot of birders, or where there's a terrific amount of wild lands to check out or where a lot of birds worth reporting show up.
How? In their designated areas, participants count all birds they encounter. They spend some time in the field counting all birds encountered in a specified area, and keep track of miles traveled and time spent counting. Participants tabulate their bird data and contribute it to the overall county count and eventually to the state tally.
Get Involved: The PSO organizes the PAMC. Most counties have compilers who organize local partici-pants to ensure good coverage of their county. However, some counties do not yet have compilers (or the compiler has retired). In those counties, we welcome reports from individual birders, even if there is no compiler. Interested individuals can find information and forms for PAMC from their county compiler, or online. Your data can be submitted via email or post. For more information and to participate, please contact the county compiler first, to avoid duplicate submissions from the same area. The county compilers are listed on the PSO website page for the PAMC (www.pabirds.org).
Benefits: Everyone gets to enjoy the wonderful experience of bird migration by participating in PAMC. Together, we learn about the distribution and abundance of the many species of birds that "flow" through our state on their way north or to nesting grounds in our own state. The date is selected to maximize the potential for encountering a wide diversity of bird species from sandpipers and plovers to forest song-birds. This often is when big "warbler fallouts" occur or wet fields and sandbars are covered with restless shorebirds.
PAMC data contributes to our common knowledge of where each bird species migrates and what locations are import stopovers for these diverse species. How many birds are there? How do the patterns of timing and numbers change annually? Are species increasing or decreasing? Are species changing their migration routes and timing? What locations are most important to migrating birds? We can help answer these questions and others by participating in PAMC and involving others. The state compiler maintains the PAMC data, and an annual report is published in Pennsylvania Birds, the journal of the PSO. Reports can be found at the PSO website. The data from PAMC also can be contributed to eBird for a wider dis-semination of bird data.
As a group, PAMC participants celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. Organizations and individuals lead bird walks for the public at many places where migrant birds can be observed. This spreads a wealth of information about migrant birds and their needs and expands the number of people who can experience the excitement of bird migration.