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Audubon’s 124th Annual Christmas Bird Count this week

The 124th Annual Christmas Bird Count will be held on Thursday in Hubbard Lake and Saturday in Alpena. Pictured is a cardinal, one of the birds that may be seen in Northern Michigan during the winter.

ALPENA — The National Audubon Society invites birdwatchers to participate in the longest-running community science survey, the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. On Thursday, Dec. 14 in Hubbard Lake, and Saturday, Dec. 16 in Alpena, birders and nature enthusiasts in Hubbard Lake and Alpena will take part in this tradition, many rising before dawn to participate.

During the annual count for 2022 the Thunder Bay Audubon Society stated that in Hubbard Lake and Alpena more ducks were seen than usual, due to the lack of ice on the lakes. Two other birds were also seen last year an Iceland Gull and a Green-Winged Teal.

This year, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count will mobilize nearly 80,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,600 locations across the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone. Data compiled in Hubbard Lake and Alpena will record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area, contributing to a vast community science network that continues a tradition stretching back to 1900.

“The Christmas Bird Count is a great tradition and opportunity for everyone to be a part of 124 years of ongoing community science,” said Geoff LeBaron, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count director, who first started leading the community science effort in 1987. “Adding your observations to 12 decades of data helps scientists and conservationists discover trends that make our work more impactful. Participating in the Christmas Bird Count is a fun and meaningful way to spend a winter for anyone and everyone.”

When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past 100 years. The long-term perspective is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to protect birds and their habitat, and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well. Christmas Bird Count data have been used in more than 300 peer-reviewed articles.

Birders of all ages and abilities are welcome to contribute to this fun, nationwide community science project, which provides ornithologists with a crucial snapshot of our native bird populations during the winter months. Each individual count is performed in a count circle with a diameter of 15 miles. At least 10 volunteers, including a compiler to coordinate the process, count in each circle. The volunteers break up into small parties and follow assigned routes, which change little from year to year, counting every bird they see. In most count circles, some people also watch feeders instead of following routes.

Interested birders must arrange with the count contact in advance to participate. To sign up for the local count with the Thunder Bay Audubon Society, contact Karen for the Alpena count at 989-464-6573 or Lynn for the Hubbard Lake count at 989-657-1666.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a free community science project organized by the National Audubon Society, and also Birds Canada in Canada. Counts are open to birders of all skill levels and Audubon’s free Bird Guide app makes it even easier to learn more. For more information and to find a count near you visitchristmasbirdcount.org.

Call, join and participate with the Thunder Bay Audubon Society for the annual CBC for 2023.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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