LAKEWOOD, OH — With so many holiday traditions canceled or altered due to the coronavirus pandemic, one that's still taking place might also offer a perfect way to socially distance.
The annual Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count returns for its 121st year, and there is one active circle in the works near Lakewood. The count, a census of birds in the Western Hemisphere, will be conducted from Monday, Dec. 14 through Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.
The Ohio Lakewood circle will be doing a count on Dec. 27. The circle has areas in neighborhoods, small parks, cemeteries and green spaces that need coverage.
"We would love to have your participation all or part of the day. With Covid-19 still with us, Western Cuyahoga Audubon will have a virtual Pre-CBC Gathering prior to the official CBC date to get the opportunity to see and talk with one another, get routes selected, clarify how to keep track of hours and miles, and answer any question," the group said on the Audubon website.
To participate, contact Nancy Howell by Dec. 24 at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Local counts are organized by a count compiler, and they are held on only one day. Bird counters will follow a specific route within a 15-mile diameter circle and count any bird they see or hear all day, according to the Audubon Society.
The yearly count helps strategists to protect birds and their habitat, according to a report from PennLive.
“This information paints a clear picture of bird distribution and abundance, and in the case of the publication, aids in the understanding of the urgency of bird conservation,” the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania wrote in its pitch to bring in more participants.
Every year, thousands of observers take part in the count across the United States, Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands, and it becomes more popular every year. A record 81,601 birders took part in the 2019 count, which was the 10th consecutive year a record-breaking count was recorded.
That number could be significantly lower this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will affect CBC participation,” Audubon said on its website. “Pending local restrictions, many counts will be done under the COVID-19 guidelines sent to compilers, while others will likely be cancelled.”
Online registration isn’t available this year, so bird counters should email the count organizers to participate. Find contact information for all the active bird counts here.
More circles could be added by the time the count starts, the Audubon Society said. A bird count tracker will go live once the counting begins.