Christmas Bird Count brings together citizen scientists
In what is a yearly Christmastime tradition, tens of thousands of citizen scientists across the United States go out in nature to collect data on hundreds of bird species. This year’s Christmas Bird Count, held Dec. 21 in Summit County, brought in both outside volunteers and local birders.
This year’s Summit County bird count, run by the Utah Birders out of Salt Lake, found nine birders sighting a total of 52 different species. Local birder Stephanie Dolmat-Connell said she is hoping to drum up more interest in birding in the greater Park City area, which she said is underrepresented for birding.
"[Birds are] an indicator of the health of the wildlife around here. doing [the bird count] at the same time each year you can really get a sense, year to year, of the population of birds and how climate change might be affecting where the birds are," Dolmat-Connell said.
Data collected by birders is used by Audubon and other organizations to track the health of bird populations and steer conservation initiatives.
Birders this year visited habitats such as feeders in Summit Park, the Rockport and Jordanelle Reservoirs, the Weber River and the Park City Golf Course. Notable bird species sighted included American Coots, Horned Grebes, Bald Eagles and Rough-Legged Hawks.
"Finding birds in the winter is more difficult than in the summertime," Dolmat-Connell said. "Most have migrated, so you look for places with open water and look for feeders."
Dolmat-Connell said this year’s event featured local birders from Kamas and Pinebrook, and she is looking to gather as many people as possible to get bird feeders put in their backyard and join in at other birding events.
"It’s a lot of fun. Even if people don’t know everything about birds, going out with more experienced birders can really help bring it to life," Dolmat-Connell said.
For more information on Utah Birders, visit utahbirders.com.
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