Would you like to have some socially-distanced fun while contributing to science? Join us for Arctic Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count! The annual Christmas Bird Count will take place in Fairbanks on Dec. 19. Bird watchers of all levels are invited, and you don’t have to live inside the count circle in order to participate

There are many reasons to participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count. It’s a good excuse to get outside at a dark and cold time of year when we sometimes would rather be curled up on the couch with a book. It’s also a fun social event, a chance to connect with the rest of the bird watching community, and an opportunity to contribute to the country’s longest running wildlife census.

The Christmas Bird Count started in 1900 as an alternative to the tradition of hunting songbirds over the holidays. Each community counts the same geographic area each year over a 24-hour period. Even though the count is somewhat loosely organized, having 120 years of data on bird species and numbers present in an area can document some important trends. As Interior Alaska is experiencing rapid climate change, tracking the changing abundance and distribution of our local birds is important.

There are two ways to participate in the Christmas Bird Count. Anyone, regardless of where they live, can join a field team to count an area anywhere within the Fairbanks circle. If you’re new to bird watching, you can still participate in the CBC by being paired with a more experienced birder.

If there’s a particular area in which you want to count, contact the area coordinator listed on the Arctic Audubon Society website. Or contact the count coordinators to find out which areas can use your help.

If you live inside the count circle, you can also count birds coming in to your feeders. Contact the area coordinator and let them know that you will be counting. Set out a variety of seeds, suet, and peanut butter in advance to attract the local birds. On the day of the count, count the total number of species seen visiting your feeders, and the highest number of a single species seen at any one time.

For more information about how you can participate, visit the Arctic Audubon website at www.arcticaudubon.org/christmas-bird-count-1 or contact coordinators Ken Russell and Laurel Devaney at 907-750-3027.

Plan to bundle up and spend the daylight hours on Dec. 19 walking, skiing, snow-shoeing, snowmachining or driving to help count our local birds. We hope to see you.

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