It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: National Audubon Society's Annual Christmas Bird Count
National Audubon Society is giving folks yet another reason to look to the heavens this holiday season. As part of the environmental organization's annual Christmas Bird Count—now in its 119th year—amateur and expert birders alike are asked to band together and gaze up to help maintain their database of American bird populations.
This year's Christmas Bird Count will be conducted between Friday, December 14, 2018 and Saturday, January 5, 2019. Each individual count takes place in an established 15-mile diameter circle and is organized by a count compiler. Volunteers follow set routes through their designated circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. (Please let us know if you come across a yellow cardinal!)
"It's not just a species tally—all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day," the Audubon Society explains on its website.
The heap of data collected by count participants over the past century has become one of only two large pools of information used by scientists to assess how the birds of the Americas are faring over time.
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You can find the counting circle nearest your home using this map. Green and yellow indicate circles that are open for new participants, while red circles are full. Contact compilers by email. (Addresses can be found in the pop-ups on the map.) Beginning birders are encouraged to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher.
Happy counting, y'all!