For Immediate Release - December 15, 2009

Environmental Officials Encourage Residents to Join the Commonwealth's 100th Christmas Bird Count

Boston - The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) invites residents throughout the Commonwealth to make the annual Christmas Bird Count a new outdoor holiday tradition, and help researchers study the long-term health and status of bird populations in Massachusetts.

"The Christmas Bird Count is a volunteer effort led by the National Audubon Society, local bird clubs and bird organizations that involves thousands of volunteers internationally and hundreds here in Massachusetts," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. "This is one of several important conservation surveys that help identify threats to birds and promote awareness of the need to address those threats."

From December 14, 2009 through January 5, 2010 people throughout the United States will participate in the Christmas Bird Count (CBC,) the nation's longest running wildlife survey. Massachusetts residents can participate at one of the 33 geographic "count circles" throughout the state. Each count circle is coordinated by an experienced count compiler. Beginning birders can join a group that includes at least one or two experienced birdwatchers in charge of covering a portion of the circle. Residents who live within the boundaries of a count circle can report the birds visiting their own feeders.

First time CBC participants should contact their local count complier to find out how to participate.

The data collected by bird observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists, 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, the CBC provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.