How to take part in the Christmas Bird Count

November 30, 2015, 10:38 a.m.

Did you take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count at the beginning of the year? If so, you're already on your way to being ready for the Christmas Bird Count!

The Christmas Bird Count is an annual event held by Audubon, and it is the longest-running citizen science bird project in North America. This year will mark the 116th count!

The sign-up begins in November, and counts are held around the country from December 14th to January 5th. Birders head out to count the number of birds they see and note down the species they spot.

The reports from birders give Audubon invaluable amounts of information about the location and abundance of various bird species. The long tradition of the bird count has also helped in studying long-term changes. Audubon writes, "The data collected by observers over the past century allow Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years."

You can sign up to partake in a Christmas Bird Count here. Volunteers are provided with a specific route to follow through their census area, and a specific methodology to follow while taking count. You'll feel like a real scientist! And it's a great way to get kids interested in biology and scientific field work. Meanwhile, you can take our backyard birds quiz to see how savvy you already are about naming species.

Would you like your photo to be featured as Photo of the Day? Join our Flickr group and add your photos to the pool!

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.