The Union Democrat
122nd annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count slated for Dec. 18
The National Audubon Society invites birdwatchers to participate in the longest-running community science survey, the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.
On Dec, 18, birders and nature enthusiasts in Tuolumne County are invited to take part in the tradition. Everyone in the group can help by pointing out birds that may be missed by others. If someone wants to participate but cannot go with a group, they are encouraged to sit and observe their bird feeders and yards in the comfort of their homes.
The Sonora CBC has been held every year since 1986 and is in need of people of all birding abilities to assist. The count area is a 15-milediameter circle centered at Tuolumne and Lambert Lakes Roads, which is then broken into 20 areas. Each area has at least one experienced birder and others of varying expertise.
This year, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count will mobilize nearly 80,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,600 locations across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone. Data compiled in Sonora will record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area, contributing to a vast community science network that continues a tradition stretching back 120 years.
“The Christmas Bird Count is a great tradition and opportunity for everyone to be a part of 122 years of ongoing community science,” said Geoff Lebaron, Audubon's Christmas Bird Count director, who first started leading the community science effort in 1987. “Adding your observations to 12 decades of data helps scientists and conservationists discover trends that make our work more impactful. Participating in the Christmas Bird Count is a fun and meaningful way to spend a winter for anyone and everyone.”
When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, Audubon's Christmas Bird Count provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years. The long-term perspective is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to protect birds and their habitats, and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well. Christmas Bird Count data have been used in more than 300 peer-reviewed articles.
Again for this year's 122nd Christmas Bird Count will be “CBC Live,” a crowd-sourced, hemisphere-wide storytelling function using Esri mapping software. This “story-map” will ask users to upload a photo taken during their Christmas Bird
Count as well as a short anecdote to paint a global picture of the Christmas Bird Count in real time.
Birders of all ages are welcome to contribute to this fun, nationwide community science project, which provides ornithologists with a crucial snapshot of native bird populations during the winter months. Each individual count is performed in a count circle with a diameter of 15 miles. At least 10 volunteers, including a compiler to coordinate the process, count in each circle. The volunteers break up into small parties and follow assigned routes, which change little from year to year, counting every bird they see. In most count circles, some people also watch feeders instead of following routes.
Interested birders must arrange with the count compiler in advance to participate. To sign up for the local count, email Steven Umland and stevenum71@ gmail.com, or call him at (209) 352-6985.
The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a free community science project organized by the National Audubon Society. Counts are open to birders of all skill levels and Audubon's free Bird Guide app makes it even easier to learn more. For more information, go online to www.christmas birdcount.org.
The Sonora Christmas Bird Count is run under the auspices of the local Audubon chapter, the Centra Sierra Audubon Society.