Canada will begin on Dec 14 its traditional annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, the longest-running wildlife census in the world. Over 70,000 volunteer bird counters will take part, to be deployed in more than 2,300 locations in the Western Hemisphere.
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Organised by Bird Studies Canada and the National Audubon Society for over a century, the count records every individual bird and bird species in a specified area. The data are then compiled in Grand Forks.
In the 2012 bird census, about 60 million birds were counted from 2,369 locations made by 71,000 volunteers. The count has 13,000 participants from Canada who tallied 3.7 million bird in 418 counts.
Dick Cannings, Christmas Bird Count coordinator of Bird Studies Canada, said, quoted by The Castlegar Source, "This is not just about having fun and counting bird - although that's an important part of it ... Data from the Christmas Count are at the heart of hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies and informed decisions by government agencies throughout North America and, increasingly, the Western Hemisphere."
Volunteers are not required to have any bird-counting experience. To join, register in advance at www.grpg.org and click on events.
The tradition started more than a hundred years ago when 27 conservationists from 25 localities, led by scientist and writer Frank Chapman, changed ornithological history by ditching the side hunt - a Christmas Day activity when teams competed to see who could shoot the most number of birds and small mammals.
Mr Chapman instead proposed on Dec 25, 1900, that members of the small group identify, count and record all the birds they spotted, establishing what is considered the world's most significant citizen-based conservation effort.