Christmas bird count: Take part in the longest running citizen science project

Staff reportDecember 1, 2013 

Volunteers and Audubon Society members from across the South Sound will take part in the 114th annual Christmas Bird Count this month.

The event uses thousands of volunteers across North America to count and categorize the birds they see. The results are used as a tool to monitor the status and distribution of bird populations across the Western Hemisphere.

More than a century old, the count continues to grow in numbers and expand in scope. The first year there were 27 observers in 25 locations. Last year’s count included 71,531 participants in 2,369 locations in 17 countries.

More than 2,000 counts will take place nationwide this year, during what has become the longest running citizen science survey in the world.


The Black Hills Audubon Society will conduct its count from dawn to dusk Dec. 15.

Society members and anyone else interested will spend all or part of the day in the field counting birds in assigned areas.

The society will partner people new to birding, or those who prefer working with a more experienced birder, with veteran group leaders.

Olympia counters will conclude the day with a traditional chili dinner at 5 p.m. at Temple Beth Hatfiloh, 201 Eighth Ave. SE, Olympia. The dinner is a chance to sit down, warm up and share each group’s count numbers.

To join the Olympia count, contact count coordinator Bill Shelmerdine at or 360-866-9106.


The Tacoma count will take place at eight locations around Pierce County on Dec. 21.

“We will be doing all the areas for data consistency,” said Krysal Kyer, the Tahoma Audubon Society’s executive director. “There is one new area that is within the existing circle. That is on the Tacoma Rifle/Revolver club property in Lakewood under our newly developing partnership.”

For birders of all levels, the count is always a chance to add a new bird or two to a list of birds seen over the years. Last year, for example, participants reported two species not seen before on the chapter’s circle counts: a slaty-backed gull and a brown pelican. Another bird of interest was a white-breasted nuthatch. The last time one was counted in the Tacoma count was in the 1990s, project coordinator Faye McAdams Hands said.

If you are interested in taking part, contact McAdams Hands at 360-275-0553 or If you know what area of the count you would like to participate in, you also can call the area coordinator directly:

Area 1: Downtown Tacoma and Point Defiance Park, Art Wang, 253-752-1714.

Area 2: Browns Point, Northeast Tacoma and Port of Tacoma, McAdams Hands, 360-275-0553.

Area 3: Gig Harbor, Diane Yorgason-Quinn, 253-857-3367.

Area 4: Parkland and Hillsdale, Roxy and Bill Giddings, 253-537-3075.

Area 5: University Place, Fircrest, northern part of Lakewood, Rolan Nelson, 253-330-9545.

Area 6: Steilacoom, American Lake, southern part of Lakewood, Marcus Roening, 253-756-0215.

Area 7: Fife and Salishan, Shelley Parker, 253-862-9350.

Area 8: Day Island, downtown Tacoma and waterfront, Port of Tacoma, Ruth Sullivan, 253-564-7419.

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