Wild Things: Join Us for the Annual Christmas Bird Count Dec. 17

Want to be part of the longest running citizen scientist project? Be part of the 117th annual Christmas Bird Count, which takes places Dec. 17 and 18. Every year in mid-December, birders go out and count as many birds as they can in a 24-hour period in a 15-mile circle. That data is then collected and becomes a valuable database for scientists and conservationists, according to Stephanie Touzalin, a naturalist at the District's Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn. The annual bird counts show trends and guide conservation efforts, she said.

Locally, the bird counts are split into two large sectors — one around Morton Arboretum in Lisle and the other around Fermi Lab in Batavia. Join the District's "Bird Count Field Trip" on Saturday, Dec. 17 from 8 ‒ 11 a.m. at West Chicago Prairie in West Chicago, which is part of the Fermi Lab sector. The program is for ages 10 and up; under 18 with an adult. Register online or by calling 630-206-9630.

Those interested can also contact Jeff Chapman from the DuPage Birding Club at jeffchapman@sbcglobal.net.

Touzalin said the annual bird count is a great way for new birders to get experience and learn from more experienced birders because they will be paired with seasoned Christmas Bird Count veterans. Volunteers should dress warmly and bring binoculars if possible.

Armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists, tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas take part in this annual bird count for the National Auduboon Society, which takes place over a 24-hour period to catch owls and other nocturnal species. Audubon and other organizations use data collected to assess the health of bird populations and help guide conservation action. 

Willowbrook Wildlife Center naturalist Stephanie Touzalin talks more about the annual Christmas Bird Count on Wild Things on WDCB Radio (90.9 FM).  


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