HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission officials are urging wildlife enthusiasts to join the tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the United States in the Audubon Society’s 109th Annual Christmas Bird Count, which will take place Dec. 14 through Jan. 5.
“Bird enthusiasts, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists, will head out on an annual mission – often before dawn – to make a difference and to experience the beauty of creation,” said Dan Brauning, Game Commission Wildlife Diversity Section supervisor. “Each year, volunteers brave snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count, and they have made an enormous contribution to conservation to help guide conservation actions.
“The data collected through this effort – which is the longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations – allows researchers, conservation biologists, and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.”
Local counts will occur on one day between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5. Volunteers can pick the most convenient circle, or participate in more than one count. There is a specific methodology to the CBC, 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,” who is an experienced birdwatcher, enabling beginning birders to learn while they assist. Also, those who live within the boundaries of a Count Circle can even stay at home and report the birds that visit their backyard feeders, or join a group of birdwatchers in a local field.
“In either case, if you have never been on a CBC before your first step is to locate and contact your local Count Compiler to find out how you can volunteer,” Brauning said.
To view instructions on how to search for a circle and sign-up for an open count, visit the Game Commission’s Web site and click on “Wildlife” in the left-hand column, and then choose the “Christmas Bird Count” icon in the center of the page. Information also can be obtained from Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count Web site, or on the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology’s December newsletter.