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Time for annual national Christmas bird count

Citizen scientists will flock to national parks for annual bird count

1916: President Woodrow Wilson signs a bill creating the United States National Park Service.
1916: President Woodrow Wilson signs a bill creating the United States National Park Service. (National Park Service)


WASHINGTON – Starting next week, and through the holiday season, citizen scientists will once again fan out across America and America's national parks to count birds.

The National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count (CBC) began in 1900 and is one of the longest-running citizen science events in the world.

The CBC provides reliable data aimed at demonstrating the importance of national parks to birds.

National parks in almost every state will host bird counts again this year. The parks provide essential habitats for one or more species of breeding, wintering, and/or migrating birds.

Christmas Bird Counts also help inform the national State of the Birds Report.

"Our national parks and seashores and other public lands are critical safe havens for many species," explains National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, "especially in the face of climate change, one of the biggest challenges to habitat conservation for all species in the 21st Century."

The main purpose of the bird count is to gather data about trends and the general health of bird populations. 

Everglades National Park was established as a national park in 1947 and consists of nearly 2,400 square miles. Often referred to as a swamp, the Everglades' biggest water sources, approximately 60 inches of rain per year and overflow from Lake Okeechobee, help make it a southwestwardly flowing river running through the third largest national park in the lower 48 states.
Everglades National Park was established as a national park in 1947 and consists of nearly 2,400 square miles. Often referred to as a swamp, the Everglades' biggest water sources, approximately 60 inches of rain per year and overflow from Lake Okeechobee, help make it a southwestwardly flowing river running through the third largest national park in the lower 48 states.

Another benefit of this enormous citizen science program, according to the National Park Service, is the important way it gains advocates and new enthusiasts for birds.

Each year, the CBC mobilizes more than 70,000 volunteers in more than 2,400 locations.

Some of the national parks hosting Christmas Bird Counts include Biscayne national Park and the Everglades National Park.

The 2014-15 count dates fall between Dec. 14, 2014 and Jan. 5, 2015.


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