Tags:Audubon's Annual Christmas Bird Count continues through Jan. 5, 2012 at locations in North Carolina.
Armed with binoculars, volunteer birders continue to search for birdlife all over North Carolina as they participate in Audubon's annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Now in its 112th year, this early-winter bird census is the longest-running citizen science survey in the world. During the count period, an estimated 60,000 people in the United States, Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands will identify and count all the birds they see during a 24-hour period.
Fifty-one counts were scheduled throughout North Carolina during the 2011-2012 season. The counts cover the entire state, from the Highlands Plateau in western North Carolina to Bodie-Pea Island on the Outer Banks. During the 2010-2011 CBC, North Carolina participants tallied 223 species and 1,374,000 individual birds.
Many of the count circles include public lands such as state parks, national wildlife refuges, and national seashores, as well as sites on the North Carolina Birding Trail and within Audubon Important Bird Areas. North Carolina Sea Grant is one of several partners involved with the North Carolina Birding Trail, which links great bird watching sites and birders with communities, businesses and other local historical and educational attractions across the state. Started in 2003, the trail is accessible in the coastal plain, piedmont and mountain regions.
Hundreds of birders volunteer their time and often endure extreme weather during the North Carolina CBC. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle or can arrange in advance to count birds at home feeders inside the circle and submit the results to a designated compiler. Accuracy is assured by having new participants join an established group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher.
Buncombe County's bird count took place Dec. 17 (contact is Jamie Harrelson, firstname.lastname@example.org), but counts in other areas of the state are yet to occur, so search the online list if you are interested in finding one yet to take place nearby. Visit Audubon's website (www.audubon.org) for more information about NC counts, including contact information for count compilers. Or visit the Carolina Bird Club to see a Google map of all the count circles in North and South Carolina. There is a $5 fee to participate in the CBC for all field participants aged 19 or older. Please see the CBC FAQs to learn more.