If you’re looking for an opportunity to get outdoors this winter and learn about your local bird communities, check out the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Counts! For the 118th season, birders around the country will be conducting bird counts and submitting the data to the national organization, in what is now the nation’s longest running citizen bird project.
Over 2,300 bird counts occur each year worldwide, and our local Audubon chapter will be supporting three of those bird counts, in Groveland, Sonora and Calaveras County on Dec. 14, 16, and 30th respectively. If you live in the Sonora area and you can’t make it on the 16th, you can also stay at home and tally the birds that come into your yard to contribute data. A count will be held in Yosemite on Dec. 17th as well, organized by Sarah Stock (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the National Park Service. Last year in Yosemite, 1,846 birds of 70 species were observed.
Around 40 enthusiasts usually take part in the bird count each year. The counts are conducted in a 15-mile diameter circle, which is divided into sectors covered by teams of birders. The teams include between 2 and 10 people with a wide range of knowledge and expertise, so if you’re unfamiliar with local bird species, you can still participate and strengthen your bird identification skills. Bring binoculars, field guides, lunch, and water, as well as layered clothes and comfortable walking shoes. The survey usually lasts from just after dawn to around 5 p.m., although adjustments can be made for volunteers. Each field day ends with a potluck and recap of the day’s surveys. Come get to know the birds and birders in your area, and contribute valuable scientific data to the project!