Reminder: Help count birds for science during annual Christmas Bird Count Dec. 17

Anna’s Hummingbird (File photo by Mike McAuliffe)

The Pilchuck Audubon Society invites birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts to participate in the longest running community science survey – the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). On Saturday, Dec. 17, birders and bird enthusiasts will take part in this century-long project once again.

“Over the past few years we’ve made an effort to increase the number of people counting the birds in their yards and at their feeders,” said Brian Zinke, executive director of the Pilchuck Audubon Society. “This is really important as so much of our count area consists of residential areas. To get the full picture of how many birds we have and of which species, we need to survey more than just our parks.”

Birders of all ages are welcome to contribute to this nationwide community science project, which provides scientists and conservationists with a crucial snapshot of native bird populations during the winter months. The Edmonds/South Snohomish County CBC is performed in a count circle with a diameter of 15 miles that is centered near Martha Lake in Lynnwood. This circle covers southern Everett, Mukilteo, Mill Creek, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrance, Kenmore, Maltby, and much of Bothell.

In 2021, 101 people participated by counting birds in their yards at 71 locations. This was in addition to the 96 people who participated on field teams surveying parks, greenbelts and other places birds congregate. The yard counters detected 3,039 birds belonging to 49 species. This accounted for 11% of the birds detected on the count.

The yard counters found 100% of the Band-tailed Pigeons, 71% of the Anna’s Hummingbirds, 80% of the Hairy Woodpeckers, 52% of the Chestnut-backed Chickadees, and 73% of the Townsend’s Warblers. Overall, the yard counters had a significant positive impact on the success of the count. Complete results of the 2021 Edmonds/South County CBC can be found on the Pilchuck Audubon website.

To participate by counting birds in your yard and/or at your feeders, organizers ask that you confirm that you live within the count circle using the zoomable map on the Pilchuck Audubon website. If you’d like to participate or have questions, contact Brian Zinke at director@pilchuckaudubon.org.

Each year, the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count mobilizes over 75,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,500 locations across the Western Hemisphere. 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 the South Snohomish and Northern King County area 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 more than 100 years.

To date, over 200 peer-reviewed articles have resulted from analysis done with Christmas Bird Count data. Bird-related community science efforts are also critical to understanding how birds are responding to a changing climate. This documentation is what enabled Audubon scientists to discover that 314 species of North American birds are threatened by climate change as reported in Audubon’s groundbreaking Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink. The tradition of counting birds combined with modern technology and mapping is enabling researchers to make discoveries that were not possible in earlier decades.

    1. Hi Cathy,
      You would be too far east to participate as a feeder/yard counter, but if you wanted to join a field team that birds at specific locations within the circle boundaries you can! Just reach out to Brian at director@pilchuckaudubon.org and let him know you’d like to join a field team. Thanks!

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