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Take Winter Birds 101 and join the bird count

The Weminuche Audubon Society will participate in its first-ever official Audubon Christmas Bird Count this coming January.

Our local Audubon ran a trial count last January and all of the work to make it official has been started.

There is a wealth of information at the Weminuche Audubon website; click on the Christmas Bird Count link at http://www.weminucheaudubon.org. All Audubon Christmas Bird Count information can be found at Audubon’s website http://birds.audubon.org. Look for the Christmas Bird Count under the heading “Birds.”

We invite you to join us for the count on Monday, Jan. 2. Regardless of whether you are an expert, have some idea what our local winter birds are, or are completely new to bird watching, you can be of help and have fun doing so.

For 60,000 bird watchers nationwide, this program has become a yearly holiday event. Spend the day bird watching with those who love wild birds and make a significant contribution towards the understanding and protection of local birds and their habitat.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count has run for 111 years, making this citizen program the oldest in the world. We call ourselves “citizen scientists.” By following very specific scientific guidelines and assuring accuracy of birds seen, we, as laymen, can make a significant contribution every year to the health and well being of our native birds. No nonprofit organization could afford to pay staff to gather the information we do.

The field counts gathered each Christmas become the basis for science to determine current populations of local winter birds, and document any significant trends or decline in those populations. Conservation plans to protect birds and their habitat are developed from the information gathered.

The day of the count, we record all the birds seen in one day within our local count circle. The circle is divided into 14 zones and we need a volunteer zone leader, an expert and birders to help count birds in each zone. Participants car pool and stop to bird count. The downtown zone can be done on foot. See our circle map and zone maps at www.weminucheaudubon.org. We also need birds counted at bird feeders that day and hope to find an owling expert who can lead an owling count that night.

If you would like to help with this program, contact Beverly Compton, volunteer CBC coordinator, at bevkresz@centurytel.net or 731-3471. Help is needed now with tasks such as the writing of press releases, e-mail information to Web birding calendars, Facebook updates, Twitter information, posters to put up around town and at feed stores that sell wild bird seed. Members of the Durango Birding Club will be on hand the day of the count to help ensure accuracy of identifying birds.

To help with the bird count, Becky Gillette, Audubon Colorado SW director, is providing free winter bird identification training each Wednesday for the next three weeks.

Winter Birds 101 will be presented at the Ross Aragon Community Center, at 6 p.m. on Dec. 7, 14 and 21. This training is free and open to the public. Please join us.

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