CENTRAL SIERRA — Bird lovers, photographers and anyone interested in the enjoying the variety of bird species in the Central Sierra are invited to join the National Audubon Society’s 117th Christmas Bird Count (CBC).
The CBC is an annual international bird census that began on Christmas Day in 1900, and now takes place in more than 1,500 locations throughout the Americas. This season the Christmas Bird Count will be held in the foothill and Yosemite area between Dec. 14, 2015 and Jan. 5, 2016. Participation is free, and everyone is encouraged to join, regardless of experience.
The Yosemite Area Audubon Society encourages local residents to participate in any or all of the following area counts:
- Oakhurst CBC: Friday, Dec. 16. Meet at Burger King at 7 a.m. For more information contact Vernon Johnson (559) 760-6327 firstname.lastname@example.org or Joe Frank (559) 683-5398 email@example.com
- Mariposa CBC: Saturday, Dec, 17. Meet at Happy Burger at 7 a.m. For more information contact Lowell Young (209) 966-2547 firstname.lastname@example.org or Len McKenzie (209) 742-5579 email@example.com
- Yosemite CBC: Sunday, Dec. 18. Contact Sarah Stock for information on meeting place and time at (209) 379-1435 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Each count is an all-day event, but participation for only part of the day can usually be arranged with the count compiler or party leader. Participants generally start at 7 – 7:30 a.m. and cover an assigned route or zone within the prescribed 15-mile-diameter count circle, counting all positively identified birds (both species and individuals) seen and/or heard.
Inexperienced birders are welcome and encouraged to participate; every field party will have at least one experienced birder who can make or help with identifications. Additional eyes and ears are helpful in finding birds, and novice birders will improve their identification skills.
Participation in the counts is free, but the National Audubon Society will accept voluntary donations to help defray the cost of publishing the CBC results.
Visit www.yosemiteaudubon.org for additional information, including the contact person and meeting location for each count and a listing of other nearby CBCs.
More information on the CBC from yosemiteaudubon.org:
Christmas Bird Counts are censuses of all birds (all individuals and all species) found in a defined area on a given count day. The count provides population data for use in research and conservation efforts. For more information about the Christmas Bird Count, visit the National Audubon Society’s CBC page.
Yosemite Area Audubon Society members and friends are enthusiastic participants in the Christmas Bird Counts each year. The counts are part of the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, an annual avian census held between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.
Begun on Christmas Day in 1900, this event is now the longest-running wildlife survey and the oldest citizen-science project in the world. Ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed this annual bird count as an alternative to the traditional “side-hunt,” a competition for hunters to shoot as many birds as they could kill on Christmas Day.
Chapman’s brainchild has grown from its original 25 locations, mostly in northeastern North America but including Pacific Grove in California, to more than 2,100 counts ranging from the Arctic to South America. Twenty-seven hearty souls participated in the first count; today volunteers number in the tens of thousands, all of them helping amass data that collectively inform scientists of bird population trends and patterns and, in turn, decisions by the agencies responsible for bird conservation.
Like all Christmas Bird Counts, each of the three local tallies (Mariposa, Yosemite, and Oakhurst) takes place within a fixed 15-mile-diameter circle established by the count originators. The compiler selects a date within the prescribed window of time for the count. On that one day participants, assigned to specific zones, fan out inside the circle to cover the area as widely as possible and to count all the birds observed and identified. At the end of the day the results are compiled for submittal to National Audubon.
National Audubon president and CEO David Yarnold has commented, “The Audubon Christmas Bird Count harnesses volunteer power to gather knowledge that shapes conservation policy at enormous scales in this country. I couldn’t be prouder of the 60,000-plus volunteers who contribute each year….”
Christmas bird counts are among a number of citizen-science projects that engage members of the Yosemite Area Audubon Society, the local chapter affiliate of the National Audubon Society and its state affiliate, Audubon California, in bird conservation and in habitat protection, restoration, and education. YAAS invites area residents to discover the fascination and fun of birding by attending its monthly programs, participating in monthly field trips and getting involved in some of its exciting projects.
Participation in all counts is free, and all are welcome regardless of birding experience.