Audubon's Christmas Bird Count Turns 115: Why Does It Matter?
The annual bird survey is one of the largest, longest-running citizen science efforts in the world.
The three women walk with careful deliberation, stopping at the piercing sound of a blue jay overhead. "Three blue jays," Evelyn Ralston, a cell biologist, says as she looks up.
It's just after sunrise on a December morning in Poolesville, Maryland, and Ralston, Friedland, and Jennifer Kawar are busy counting birds. They're part of the Seneca Christmas Bird Count Circle, and among the three of them, they have more than 30 years of collective birding experience.
For the past 115 years on Christmas Day, people like this Maryland trio have peered through the trees with binoculars and listened for one collective purpose: to count birds.
Birders, scientists, enthusiasts, and students are among the 71,000 observers who have participated in Audubon's annual