Everyone Can Help With National Count Programs

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Bird lovers can enjoy migration events in their own back yards through a number of national programs.

Project FeederWatch is taking place now through April 3 and the 109th Christmas Bird Count runs from Sunday, Dec. 14 through Monday, Jan. 5.

Project FeederWatch

Bird-watchers in Arizona are seeing big changes, all without having to leave their back yards. The Eurasian Collared-Dove, a large, tan bird with a black ring or “collar” on the neck, is rapidly colonizing North America — with Arizona on the front lines of this invasion. Scientists want Arizona bird-watchers to help track these and other changes by participating in Project FeederWatch.

“FeederWatch is fun and easy,” says project leader David Bonter from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “While you’re enjoying the birds, take a few minutes to count and record them.”

Last winter, 30 percent of FeederWatch participants in Arizona recorded the invasive Eurasian Collared-Dove at their feeders, a species rarely seen five years ago.

To sign up, visit www.feederwatch.org or call (800) 843-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for lab members) participants receive the FeederWatcher’s Handbook, a bird-identification poster, a calendar, instructions and the FeederWatch annual report.

109th Christmas Bird Count

The National Audubon Society involves tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas from Dec. 14 through Jan. 5, in an adventure that has become a family tradition. Families and students, birders and scientists, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists will head out on an annual mission — often before dawn.

Each of the citizen scientists who brave snow, wind or rain to take part in the Christmas Bird Count, make a contribution to conservation. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations — and guide conservation.

Everyone who takes part in the Christmas Bird Count does it for love of birds and the excitement of friendly competition — and with the knowledge that their efforts are making a difference for bird conservation.

Local counts will occur on one day between those inclusive dates. If an area has more than one local count, it will be conducted on different dates within the CBC season. Participants can pick the most convenient date, or be involved in more than one count.

The bird count follows a strict methodology, but everyone can participate. The count takes place within “Count Circles,” which focus on specific geographical areas. Each circle is led by a Count Compiler. Therefore, beginning birders can join a group that includes at least one experienced bird-watcher. In addition, if a participant’s home is within the boundaries of a Count Circle, then she can either stay home and report the birds that visit her feeders or join a group of bird-watchers in the field.

In either case, new participants’ first step is to locate and contact the local Count Compiler.

To find the nearest Count Compiler, go online to www.audubon.org/bird/cbc. At the site those interested can also find the posted date of a count not yet conducted near them, as well as additional information.

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