Counting Christmas birds

The fourth Annual Oakhurst Christmas Bird Count will be held Friday, Dec. 19. Participants are to meet at 7 a.m. at Burger King in Oakhurst. An optional pre-count meeting will also take place at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 17 at Burger King. All interested novice and experienced birders are welcome.

The count will run through the daylight hours and the compilation will take place at dark at Burger King. Participants are encouraged, but not required, to participate the entire day. The Count Circle has a 7.5 mile radius centered at Oakhurst Elementary School. Participation is free.

In 1899, Frank Chapman proposed an alternative to the traditional Christmas competitive “side-hunt” of birds, asking interested birders of the day to go out and count birds on Christmas Day and submit their checklists to the publication Bird Lore. In 1900, 27 people in 25 localities took part in the first Christmas Bird Count.

Today, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count has a 114-year-long history of counting birds and a growing tradition involving over 63,000 people in over 2,200 count circles in the western hemisphere. Each of the citizen scientists who annually braves snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count makes an enormous contribution to conservation. Audubon, universities, and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations and to help guide conservation action.

From feeder-watchers and field observers to count compilers and regional editors, everyone who takes part in the Christmas Bird Count does it for the love of birds and the excitement of friendly competition - and with the knowledge that their efforts make a significant contribution to science and bird conservation.

Details: Vern, (559) 760-6327, or Joe, (559) 683-5398.