Young citizen scientists can learn the basics of birding in a family outing and other events linked to the popular annual Christmas Bird Count sponsored by the National Audubon Society.
Every year since 1900, experienced and novice birders alike have trekked into yards, parks, fields and forests to record the birds they see for both fun and for science.
This year’s Christmas Bird Count began Thursday and lasts until January 5, 2018. It’s the longest-running wildlife census in the world.
“What we want to do is teach about citizen science,” said Chris Brewer, a member of the North Cascades Audubon Society. “We want to convey that and show kids that winter is a great time for birds around here.”
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North Cascades Audubon Society has an official event scheduled for Sunday. It’s the 51st time that the local group has participated in worldwide count, Brewer said. But anyone can participate by registering online and entering data at audubon.org.
Brewer said that Whatcom and Skagit counties have dozens of fascinating birds, and many migratory species such as swans, snow geese, and varied thrushes.
“The count is an important citizen science contribution to data collection used for bird conservation and is included in updates of Audubon’s ‘State of the Birds’ report,” she said.
Join the count
Meet indoors at the Cedar Grove Clubhouse, 4915 Samish Way, and follow signs to clubhouse and park in the parking lot. There will be interactive games to learn about common birds.
Participants will drive one mile to Lake Padden to count birds for about 2 hours and return to the clubhouse for lunch and to compile data. Children must be 7 years and older and accompanied by a parent who will also drive between sites.
Cost is $15 per family, with scholarships available. Register by December 27 at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 336-207-7505 .
Audubon provides morning snacks and drinks. Participants should bring sack lunches and are urged to dress for the weather and in layers. Binoculars will supplement the experience.