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Time to Start Counting Birds for Science with the 115th Annual Christmas Bird Count

Blue Jay in the Brush
It’s that time of year again. Time to bundle up from the cold, spend time with friends and family, and count birds for science. Yes, the 115th Annual Christmas Bird Count is beginning Dec. 14 and going until Jan. 5.

Tens of thousands of people will participate in the longest running citizen science survey in the world by taking a census of wild birds. Not only is this a fun family event but it also helps scientists document the changes in bird populations over the last year. And since this has been going on for such a long time, scientists are also able to glean long-term information from the survey and make predictions.

Here’s how to works: Participants, which can be anyone, including those with little birding experience, will join a group in advance of the count. The count is confined to a 15-mile radius, which is established by the group organizer. For one day, the participant counts all the birds they see or hear inside the circle. If your home happens to be within that 15-mile radius, you can simply count birds at your bird feeders. When the day is done, participants submit their lists to the head of the group.

It’s really as simple as that. Participants used to be charged a fee of $5, but Audubon has since made it free for anyone, making it a fun way for kids to learn more about nature and help contribute to science.

To find a Christmas Bird Count circle near you, you can search the database here.

When the count is over, we’ll be back with some of the conclusions that you helped find.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.