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Volunteers invited to bird count

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Hawk-eyed volunteers are invited to count birds during the annual Audubon Christmas bird count Dec. 14 through Jan. 5.

Each year, the bird count mobilizes over 70,000 volunteers in more than 2,400 locations across the Western Hemisphere to track the health of bird populations at a scale that professional scientists could not accomplish on their own. Data compiled by volunteers in the area records every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area, contributing to a vast citizen science network that continues a tradition stretching back more than 100 years.

The Audubon Society and other organizations like the BLM use data collected by volunteers to assess the health of bird populations and help guide conservation actions.

The count takes place within count circles, which focus on specific geographical areas. Each circle is overseen by a count compiler. Count circles are assigned to participants at the meeting sites below. Novice birders will join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher.

In addition, if your home is within the boundaries of a count circle, you can participate from home and report the birds that visit your feeder.

The counts will take place on the following dates and locations:

Saturday, Dec. 16, Delta -- Meet at 8 a.m. at the City Market parking lot in Delta to receive maps, data sheets and directions for conducting surveys. Contact Amy Seglund at 970-252-6014 or amy.seglund@state.co.us if you are interested in participating or need additional information.

Saturday, Dec. 16, Montrose -- Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Montrose Public Lands Center parking lot, 2465 S. Townsend Avenue. The bird count continues until the circle is done or until dusk. All data needs to be turned into the leader by the end of the day. Contact Missy Siders at 970-240-5332 or msiders@blm.gov.

Sunday, Dec. 17, Gunnison -- Meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Western State College Campus, Hurst Hall, Room 130. A chili potluck is at 5:30 p.m. that evening to compile results. Contact Arden Anderson at 970-901-5739 or kankan@frontier.net the week before the count if there are any questions. All data needs to be turned into the leader by the end of the day or make other arrangements with the leader.

Sunday, Dec. 17, Hotchkiss -- Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the City Market parking lot in Hotchkiss to get into small groups. Coffee and bottled water will be provided. Volunteer Andrea Robinsong will be hosting a catered gathering at her house following the count. Please contact Adam Petry for more information or to RSVP at 970-462-8702 or petry@westernbiology.com.

All volunteers need to bring warm clothes (dress for weather), snack and/or lunch, drinks, binoculars, spotting scope (if you have one) and bird identification books. Volunteers will receive maps of birding areas, checklists of birds that may be observed and additional instructions.

For more information about the Christmas bird count, visit Audubon's website at http://www.audubon.org/join-christmas-bird-count. For additional information call the numbers listed above or contact Bruce Ackerman of Black Canyon Audubon at Bruceackermanaud@aol.com.

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