'Tis the season for spending time with family, taking part in holiday traditions, and making memories that last a lifetime. And if you're looking for a new tradition to share with your family that gets everyone out the door and into the fresh air, then look no further than the annual Christmas Bird Count or CBC from the Audubon Society.  


The count runs from Dec. 14, 2011, through Jan. 5, 2012, and it is an awesome way for families to spend a day enjoying each other and enjoying nature while helping further the conservation of birds. Families and students, amateur birders and professional ornithologists all gather together, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists go on an annual mission — to count the number and species of birds in your local area on a given day.


Audubon and other organizations use the data collected in this 112-year-old science experiment to assess the health of bird populations and to help guide conservation efforts.


You don't have to be an experienced birder to participate, so this is a great learning opportunity for kids and adults alike. If you are a beginning birder, the local coordinator in your area will pair you with at least one experienced bird watcher to do your count. And in some areas, if your home is within the boundaries of a Count Circle, you may be able to stay home and report the birds that visit your own feeder.


There is a $5 fee to participate in the bird count for all field participants aged 19 or older. Check out the Audubon Society's website to find the posted date for a count near you.  


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Birders of all ages and abilities needed for annual count
The 2011 Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count kicks off Dec. 14.