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Wednesday, 11 December 2013 15:49

Volunteers continue historical bird count

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out birdcountThousands of eyes will look skyward this month as volunteer birders, armed with binoculars, participate in the 114th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, Dec. 14-Jan. 5. Among those scouring the state’s back roads and byways will be members of the Franklin Bird Club and the Highlands Plateau Audubon Society.

The Highlands group will count birds at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, meeting  at Kay and Edwin Poole’s home, where they will divide in to groups. 

The Franklin Bird Club will count birds on Jan. 4, dividing into five teams, each with a specific area to count. Last year the group sighted 58 species and 3,324 individual birds.

Each group will join 60,000 other volunteers in the count that began in 1900 when Dr. Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore (which evolved into Audubon magazine) suggested an alternative to the holiday “side hunt,” in which teams competed to see who could shoot the smallest game, including birds. Chapman proposed that people count birds instead.

The Christmas Bird Count has become an important Citizen Science project. “This is not just about counting birds,” says Gary Langham, Audubon’s chief scientist. “Data from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count are at the heart of hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies and inform decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of the Interior, and the EPA. Because birds are early indicators of environmental threats to habitats we share, this is a vital survey of North America and, increasingly, the Western Hemisphere.”

To participate in the Franklin bird count, call 828.369.1902. To participate in the Highlands bird count, call Brock Hutchins at 828.787.1387 or 404.285.0663.

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