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The Audubon Christmas Bird Count, the longest-running citizen science wildlife survey in the world, will take place Dec. 14-Jan. 5, throughout North America, including 35 locations in New Mexico.
More than 60,000 volunteers nationwide are expected to brave the cold this year to add a new layer of data that will help shape conservation decisions in years to come.
This year, the CBC will undergo several significant changes. Most importantly, fees to participate in the count will be dropped to encourage greater participation and the annual published report, “American Birds,” will go digital in 2013, saving more trees for the birds. Christmas Bird Count information will also be available online in Spanish for the first time.
“We encourage birders of all ages and abilities to participate in this year’s CBC,” said Robert Templeton, who leads a scheduling effort for New Mexico’s count. “Each counting group is led by one or more experts capable of identifying, by sight and sound, the birds in their area, so it’s a great learning opportunity for less experienced birders as well.”
Each CBC group counts in a specified area, sometimes driving, sometimes walking. Every bird that is seen or heard is identified and counted. At the end of the day, each group’s count is collected and the data is sent electronically to the National Audubon Society.
“The power of citizen science is demonstrated nowhere better than in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count,” explained Audubon New Mexico’s Director of Bird Conservation, Carol Beidleman. “Birds serve as early indicators of environmental threats, and data from the CBC has provided invaluable information to policy makers in Congress as well as the Department of the Interior, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”
To find a count near you, view New Mexico’s CBC Schedule rioembudobirds.org/nmcbc.