All that’s needed to become part of the longest-running citizen scientist program in the world is some free time on the last day of this month and a pair of binoculars.
Volunteers will be out in force Saturday to serve as scientists, counting all the birds they see in a 15-mile circle centered on the Columbia River south of Road 68 in Pasco.
The results will be contributed to the Christmas Bird Count organized by the National Audubon Society’s Science Center annually since 1900. Local Audubon groups organize the bird counts within a few weeks of Christmas Day.
The data is made available on the internet both to the public and to researchers. Ornithologists and conservation biologists can track trends over decades, including looking at whether climate change may be affecting species across the nation.
In the first bird count 117 years ago, 27 people participated. This year about 30,000 people are expected to count birds, mostly in North and South America.