One more 'Christmas Bird Count' left for the season

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Last weekend was the start to three “Christmas Bird Count” events in the Taos County area. Local bird-watchers are invited to participate in the counts, and the counts are open to birders of all skill levels.

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society, with 117 years of citizen-science involvement. It is an early-winter bird census, where thousands of volunteers across the U.S., Canada and 24 other countries go out over a 24-hour period on one calendar day to count birds. This year, more than 2,500 counts are scheduled to take place throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Mary Jo Kelly, local organizer, has the following CBC date left after two were completed this past weekend.

• Dec. 23 in the Cimarrón area.

According to the Audubon, the CBC is its longest-running wintertime tradition.

“Although referred to as Christmas Bird Counts, the counts take place between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5. The first CBC was Christmas Day 1900, when ornithologist Frank Chapman and 27 other conservationists in 25 localities posed an alternative to the ‘side hunt,’ when teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals. Instead, Chapman proposed to identify, count and record all birds they saw. Chapman’s group probably never imagined the powerful, citizen-based, important tool they instigated. The 1900 counts reported 90 species in locations from Toronto, Canada, to Pacific Grove, California. In 2015, there were over 2,500 counts,” the Audubon said.

The data collected allow Audubon researchers, conservation biologists and wildlife agencies to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across the Western Hemisphere. Officials said that when combined with other surveys, such as the breeding bird survey, it provides a picture of how the bird populations have changed over the past 117 years.

Additional information is available at audubon.org. To volunteer locally, call Kelly at (575) 586-1189.

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