Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007 • Bird enthusiasts across California ready for annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Thousands of Californians will participate in world’s longest-running wildlife census this holiday season.

Californians from all walks of life will take to the outdoors this holiday season to participate in the 108th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, the longest-running wildlife census in the world.

Between Dec. 14, 2007 and Jan. 5, 2008, thousands of Californians will transform into volunteer-citizen scientists to assess the size of bird populations in local communities throughout the state.

The data from these counts will be compiled with others from around the nation and beyond, and will ultimately help Audubon track the progress of imperiled species and gauge the impact of environmental threats to birds and habitat.

“What makes the Christmas Bird Count so wonderful is that it allows Audubon members to do what they enjoy the most and at the same time make a tremendous contribution to the scientific record,” said Glenn Olson, executive director of Audubon California.

Christmas bird counts will take place in virtually every county throughout California – in places both familiar and remote. This year, more than 110 counts are scheduled in the state and more than 5,000 are expected to participate.

Audubon California is organizing counts in Important Bird Areas that might be otherwise overlooked.

“Because of how the Christmas Bird count data is used to guide conservation and inform policy initiatives, it’s important to get into some of these remote areas and make sure that we get the best possible snapshot of birds and habitat,” said Graham Chisholm, director of conservation for Audubon California.

The Christmas bird counts began more than a century ago when conservationists – as an alternative to holiday hunting contests – banded together to identify, count and record all the birds they saw. One of the first counts was held in California in 1900, in Pacific Grove.

In each Christmas bird count, volunteers must count birds within an established 15-mile diameter circle. Sometimes these circles are in the open landscape, while other times they are on private lands or even residential neighborhoods. Each field party includes at least one experienced birdwatcher.

For more information about the history and extent of the Christmas bird count, visit audubon.org/bird/cbc/.

For more information about Christmas bird counts in California, visit natureali.org.