For Immediate Release - December 15, 2010

Environmental Officials Encourage Residents to Join the Commonwealth's 111th Christmas Bird Count

BOSTON - December 14, 2010 - 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.

"Wildlife surveys are valuable tools to wildlife managers as the data collected helps them to track the status, trends and long-term health of wildlife populations," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. "The Christmas Bird Count also promotes environmental awareness and is a fun way to get outdoors and enjoy Massachusetts' wildlife and nature."

From December 14, 2010 through January 1, 2011, 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 compiler 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. The count is a volunteer effort led by the National Audubon Society and local bird clubs and bird organizations.

DFG is responsible for promoting the enjoyment and conservation of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land preservation and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and game species, and enforcement of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's lakes and ponds.