By Christine Hill
Add a new appreciation for nature to your holiday traditions this year by participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count.
For 116 years, the Audubon Society has been counting winter birds across the Western Hemisphere. In Kansas City, volunteers will be counting on December 27.
“The Christmas Bird Count is about tradition, camaraderie, science, statistics and conservation awareness,” said Kristi Mayo, compiler for the count at the Smithville Lake area.
During the count, birders gather across the country to count every bird they see within a 15-mile wide circle, and to note all the different species. The count helps compare the rise or decline of certain species over the years. The National Audubon Society website has a list and photographs of the 20 common North American birds with the greatest population declines since 1967.
Local history shows that in 1971, participants who were involved in the first count in the Smithville Lake area counted 28 snow geese. In 2013, 500,000 snow geese were counted, according to Mayo.
Participate in the bird counting event
This year, the Christmas Bird Count began December 14 and ends January 5, 2016. On December 27, Kansas Citians can volunteer to participate with a local compiler. To participate, contact Mike Stokes for details at [email protected]. Eight additional counts were already held in the region earlier in December.
Less experienced birders will be paired with more experienced volunteers to encourage a fun learning experience for all participants. Attendees should wear layered comfortable clothing suitable for hours spent outside.
If you prefer staying in the warmth and comfort of your home and live within a count circle, volunteer to count birds at your bird feeders. Contact Stoakes to learn more.
View the Audubon’s Society 116th count map to see participants across the hemisphere.
Top photo: Red-bellied woodpecker. Photo by Linda Williams.