‘Tis the Season for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count

‘Tis the Season for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count

ANCHORAGE – From Ketchikan to Nome, every year Alaskans bundle up to celebrate the holiday season by braving the elements for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. If you are interested in attending a local count, please visit the Christmas Bird Count Calendar, http://ak.audubon.org/audubon-christmas-bird-count, on the Audubon Alaska website for dates and local contact details.

First organized in the Lower 48 and eastern Canada with 27 birdwatchers in 1900, this season marks the 116th Christmas Bird Count. In Alaska, volunteers have carried out Christmas Bird Counts since before statehood, with the first counts in 1941 in Anchorage and Mountain Village.

Groups of volunteers select a day between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5 to conduct a count. This year, Juneau and Haines will hold their counts on Jan. 2, and Sitka on Jan. 3. Many other communities held their counts Dec. 19.

Volunteers have 24 hours to record as many birds as possible within a 15-mile diameter circle. It’s important to stay within the circle so that data can be compared between years. There are Christmas Bird Counts in all 50 states, in all Canadian provinces, several Central and South American countries, and several Pacific and Caribbean islands. Last year there were a record 39 counts held across Alaska. Many counts end with a social gathering to tally lists and crow over the best birds.

The count is offered as a free event. Interested volunteers can find a count near them and sign up on the National Audubon website: http://netapp.audubon.org/cbc/public/ .

There are more birds, and bird watchers, than you might expect in Alaska in the winter. On a record 39 counts across the state last year for the 115th count, relatively mild weather helped 901 observers tie the previous record of 152 species, counting 163,061 individual birds. Kodiak, with 81 species observed, renewed its title of most species on an Alaska count. Anchorage, with 110 observers, had the highest number of participants in the state, once again making the elite list of about 80 Christmas Bird Counts in the hemisphere with 100 or more participants. Anchorage observers counted 16,009 individual birds, the highest number for the state that season.

For more Christmas Bird Count dates and contact information in Alaska communities, see the Christmas Bird Count Calendar, http://ak.audubon.org/audubon-christmas-bird-count or contact Beth Peluso at (907) 276-7034 or bpeluso@audubon.org <mailto:bpeluso@audubon.org> .

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