The 116th annual Christmas Bird Count or CBC begins Dec. 14, and scientists are relying on more than 70,000 volunteers to help them gather data about birds across the Western Hemisphere.
Each year, Audubon mobilizes experienced bird-watchers and amateurs alike to participate in the world's longest-running citizen science survey.
The CBC helps ornithologists study the fluctuation, range and movement of bird populations across the continent, enabling them to better understand how bird species are faring.
Audubon scientists have analyzed 30 years of climate data and tens of thousands of CBC bird observations to study how climate change affects bird populations.
Their recent report found that 314 of 588 bird species are at risk of being climate threatened, and some species could lose more than 50 percent of their range by 2080.
Information gathered from the CBC will help scientists pinpoint priority areas for conservation efforts.
“New tools, including apps, smartphones and map-based technologies, are making it easier than ever for anyone to be a citizen scientist,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold in a news release. "People who watch birds are seeing changes. By recording all those observations, they're contributing the information that's needed to make a difference.”
Last year's CBC shattered records with 72,652 observers tallying more than 68 million birds belonging to 2,106 species.
For the fourth season in a row, there was a major flight of snowy owls southward. The year before, it was the biggest influx the CBC had ever documented and continued throughout the winter.
The Christmas Bird Count runs through Jan. 5. For more information and to find a count near you, visit christmasbirdcount.org.