Volunteers will spread across South Sound for annual Christmas Bird Count

Birders of all skill level will be taking part in the 115th annual Christmas bird count this month. The Olympia count will take place Dec. 14, while the Tacoma count is scheduled for Dec. 20.

The National Audubon Society’s annual count is considered the longest-running citizen science wildlife survey in the world.

Last year, 63,223 volunteers took part in one of 2,248 counts, tallying more than 60 million birds. Counts took place in all 50 states, each Canadian province and territory, in Latin American, the Caribbean and on Pacific islands.

To take part, volunteers follow routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle, counting each bird they see or hear. All birds are counted, not just different species, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day.

The data collected from each circle is later used to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America, according to the society.

Counts are conducted from Dec. 14-Jan. 5 each winter.

Here are some details on the local counts:

OLYMPIA COUNT: Volunteers will spread out across 14 zones in and around Olympia and the South Sound.

Volunteers do not have to stay in one spot all day, nor participate all day long.

The Olympia count will conclude with the traditional chili feed shortly at 5 p.m. at First Christian Church, 701 Franklin St. SE, Olympia.

If you would like to participate either as a counter or a group leader, contact Bill Shelmerdine at cbc@blackhills-audubon.org or 360-866-9106. Learn more about the count at blackhills-audubon.org.

TACOMA COUNT: Volunteers here will conduct counts in eight areas in and around Tacoma. A map showing the count areas, as well as area coordinator contact information, is available at tahomaaudubon.org.

For more information, you also can contact the chapter’s count coordinator, Faye McAdams Hands, at 253-278-3712 or zest4parus@hotmail.com. You also can contact the count leaders for each area. That information is available on the chapter’s website.

OTHER COUNTS: The Rainier Audubon Society will hold its count in the Kent-Auburn area on Dec. 28. Contact: Alex at cooperjuchems@max.com. The Vashon Audubon Society will hold its count Jan. 4, including part of Gig Harbor. Contact: Diane at avosetta@hotmail.com. Kitsap Audubon Society will do its count Dec. 20. Learn more at kitsapaudubon.org or contact coordinators Gene and Sandy Bullock at genebullock@ comcast.net. The Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society will conduct its count will take place on Jan. 4. For information, contact Ed Swan at 206-463-7976 or edswan@centurytel.net.