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Bridgerland Audubon will hold Cache Valley Christmas Bird Count Saturday

A Canada jay sits on a tree branch.
Andrew Sharp
A Canada jay sits in a tree.

The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running community science project in our nation’s history. This public bird count happens every December and has gained popularity over the years.

Hilary Shughart is the president of the Bridgerland Audubon Society, and she oversees the annual Christmas Bird Count in Cache Valley.

“It was started at the turn of the century by ornithologist Frank Chapman who was concerned about dwindling bird populations…every Christmas, they were shooting birds just to see who could shoot the most, so he came up with the idea to have a competition for counting birds instead,” Shughart said.

Cache Valley has been holding counts since 1955, and data from the counts help scientists keep track of how well bird populations are doing.

As long as you have a bird feeder and live within the survey zone, you can participate for free from the comfort of your living room. While correctly identifying birds during the count is important, Shughart invited all skill levels to participate.

“It’s not going to destroy the quality of the data if a few beginners give a few misidentifications. If it's way off, you know, it'll get flagged and it won't get counted. And because of the sheer number of people submitting data, the good data should far outweigh any little mistakes that get made along the way,” Shughart said.

Participants with bird identification questions can send bird photos they take during their count to the Bridgerland Audubon for help from expert birders.

Even if you don’t see any birds during your count, Shughart said not to get discouraged.

“I like to remind people that zero is a really important number. There are plenty of people that that you know, you're willing to give ten minutes on the day of the count, the ten minutes that you pick to look around out your windows, you may not see a single bird. That's data, we want it,” Shughart said.

This year’s count will be held on Saturday, December 18th. For more information about how to participate and history about the Christmas Bird Count, visit https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/our-projects/cache-valley-christmas-bird-count/

Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.