The Union Democrat

122nd annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count slated for Dec. 18

- Submitted by Steve Umland, Central Sierra Audubon Society.

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@, 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

The Sonora Christmas Bird Count is run under the auspices of the local Audubon chapter, the Centra Sierra Audubon Society.

 ?? Tim Lewis
/ Getty Images ??
Tim Lewis / Getty Images

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