Your counting example reminded me of the group at this year's post-CBC meeting that reported 1003 snow geese. When everyone chuckled, they quickly pointed out that they had estimated one large group at 1000 and later 3 more flew overhead. So the total was approximately 1000, plus exactly
3. Makes sense to me! We can't just ignore those last 3, after all. At least it was worth a good laugh.
> Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 16:37:16 -0500
> From: Larry & Mona Rogers <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Counting Birds
> I've always had a problem with lots of the very precise seeming
> numbers you get in things like Christmas Counts, Project Feederwatch, etc.
> I've been on Christmas Counts where we've seen a big flock of, say,
> starlings and decided that there were about 250 birds in the flock. A
> little later we'd pass another somewhat smaller starling flock and say that
> it had about a hundred birds in it. A little later we'll see something
> between 20 and 30 starlings flying, and call it 25. Soon afterwards we'll
> see 12 starlings sitting on a wire, and later we'll count 7 at a feeder, and
> two more on the ground. How many starlings did we see that day? Why
> precisely 396 birds - not 395, and not 397.
> There's something wrong here.