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Christmas bird counts happening in North San Diego County

A century-long tradition that started as a bird hunt, now helps track valuable bird sightings. The Christmas Bird Count put on by the National Audubon Society covers the country. KPBS reporter Tania Thorne says the next birding events are being held nearby .

A holiday tradition that started as a bird hunt evolved into a bird count that is still going strong more than a century later.

"The Christmas bird count started around 1900 as an alternative for the Christmas bird hunt, where people would go out and basically shoot birds in teams and see how many birds they could kill. So members of the Audubon Society decided to start an alternative called the Christmas Bird Count," said Patti Langen, a board member of the Buena Vista Audubon Society.  

Rather than hunting the birds, people around the country started to go out and count them.


Christmas bird count event information

People interested in participating in the Christmas bird counts should get in touch with the events compiler ahead of the event. Contact information is listed below.

"There's a three-week window of time where the Christmas bird count needs to happen and that's to maintain the scientific integrity of the program. San Diego is a very large bird count with a lot of participants," Langen said.

She is the compiler for the count happening this Friday in Oceanside.

"Groups go out into their assigned section and they try to see how many birds they can find in the 24-hour period," she said.

Langen said there are options for early morning birders, and for people interested in owling, which means going out before dawn searching for owl species.

All the data collected from the count helps track bird activity and migration.


"Scientists will help use this data to help track bird populations and the health of bird populations over time," Langen said. "So in addition to being a fun hobby ... the birds are always amazing. It also is good to know that you’re contributing to science." 

Langen said no birding experience is needed and anyone is welcome to join the counts coming up in North County.

"We have opportunities for every level of birding experience," she said. "Some of our more experienced leaders are biologists and we have people that are brand new to birding who are helping us out."

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