The National Audubon Society could use your help to count Tri-City-area birds on Jan. 2.
Anyone who enjoys bird watching can help, according to the local chapter of the society.
The Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society has been contributing information to the national Christmas Bird Count since the mid 1960s, said Dana Ward, coordinator of the upcoming bird count.
The holiday count in the Tri-Cities is one of the best-supported counts in the state and regularly has the highest number of species seen inland, he said.
Last year, despite unusually cold weather, 68 volunteers spotted 106 species of bird.
6,507 European starlings counted last year
3 rough-legged hawks counted last year
1 hairy woodpecker counted last year
They included sightings of more than 10,000 mallards and also Canada geese. But just one peregrine falcon, northern saw-whet owl, hairy woodpecker and evening grosbeak was spotted. Three rough-legged hawks, which typically are seen in colder years, were spotted.
The upcoming bird count will be the 116th Christmas Bird Count organized by National Audubon’s Science Center in Ivyland, Pa. Although it is called a Christmas count, it is conducted on days during a three-week period around Christmas day.
Each count is organized in a 15-mile diameter circle. The local count covers a circle centered on the Columbia River south of Road 68 in Pasco.
Information will be compiled into a national annual report with data to look for trends, including whether global climate change may be expanding ranges for some species.
Some bird watching skills are helpful for volunteers who want to participate in the Tri-City count, but not required. Teams of bird spotters will be led by experienced birders.
The count will start at 7:30 a.m. at the fingernail in Richland’s Howard Amon Park, at the Audubon Nature Trail in Columbia Park in Kennewick and the Chiawana Park Boat Ramp at the end of Raod 88 in Pasco.
116 years of national bird counts
Some volunteers will start before dawn to include owls in the count.
Walking will be required for many teams, but some counting also can be done from car windows.
Counts will be turned in before the Lower Columbia Basin’s annual Christmas potluck that evening at the Columbia Grange, 6300 Court St., Pasco. The grange will be open starting at 10 a.m. for those who want to stop by for warm drinks and conversation.
Those joining the dinner should gather about 5:30 p.m. and bring a main dish and dessert to share. Information on the day’s bird count will be presented after the meal.
There is no cost to participate in the count, but each volunteer will be asked to sign a waiver.
To view the details of previous year’s counts, go to www.birdsource.org and click on “Christmas count” under the citizen science list at the bottom of the page. The Tri-Cities count code is “WATC.”