Every year since 1900, citizen scientists around North America have been out counting birds at this time of year.
It’s the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count.
Counts are happening all over North Dakota, including today at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge.
Jim Olson was in Kenmare to check out this year’s count.
It’s hard to imagine better weather for bird watching at Christmas time.
(Laurie Richardson, Biologist) “Be a good place to hang out on a day like today.”
But despite the favorable conditions, it was a little tough to find birds at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge.
(Laurie Richardson, Biologist) “There are different challenges and this year it seems to be finding the birds is a challenge.”
But that didn’t deter Richardson and a group of staff from the refuge and local volunteers from making the effort to look for birds.
(Russ Rytter, Kenmare) “I love to get out and hunt and fish. This is a little different – it’s still hunting but not killing.” You’re hunting with your binoculars? “Yeah.”
(Charles Taft, Minot) “I think this is one of the great citizen science projects there is. People with average skills can go out and contribute to long-term study.”
The results of the annual Christmas Bird Count are sent to the Audubon Society and compiled into reports that show trends in bird populations.
(Charles Taft, Minot) “That’s starting to become a significant database for what’s happening with bird populations.”
(Laurie Richardson, Biologist) “2015 we had 38 species, so that’s our number to try to beat today.”
And even if that number isn’t surpassed, the searchers say it’s great contributing to a continent-wide study of the environment. Near Kenmare, Jim Olson, KX News.
Refuge officials say 22 species of birds were spotted in today’s count – well below the record of 38 species set three years ago.
There are Christmas Bird Counts coming up Friday at Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, Sunday in Minot, and the 29th in Towner.