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Bird enthusiasts encouraged to participate in annual Christmas count

December 11, 2009 |  1:20 pm

Hummingbird

Residents of California are encouraged to participate in the 110th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, believed to be the longest-running wildlife census in the world. The citizen project, which begins Monday and runs through Jan. 5, 2010, helps scientists assess the size of bird populations in local communities throughout the state.

"The Christmas Bird Count encourages bird enthusiasts to get outside and do what they enjoy most, and at the same time make a tremendous contribution to science,” Graham Chisholm, executive director of Audubon California, said in a news release. “Many people make this a holiday tradition that goes from generation to generation.”

Data from these counts will be compiled with that from other counts from around the nation and worldwide, and will help Audubon track the progress of imperiled species and gauge the effect of environmental threats to birds and habitat. More than 100 counts are scheduled in various California counties, and more than 5,000 people are expected to participate.

Audubon California is organizing counts in "Important Bird Areas" that otherwise might be overlooked, such as Santa Cruz Island, the only known home of the Island Scrub Jay.

The group this year used several decades of Christmas Bird Count data in research that revealed up to a third of the state's native bird species will experience significant reductions in their geographic range in the next several decades because of climate change.

To learn more about the counts or to get involved, visit the Audubon websites.

-- Pete Thomas 

Photo: An Anna's hummingbird feeds within the upper reaches of Leo Carrillo State Park north of Malibu. Credit: Pete Thomas / Los Angeles Times

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