What has been described as the country’s longest-running citizen science project is set to continue in a few days.
From Dec. 14 through Jan. 5, 2016, the Audubon Society will conduct its 116th annual Christmas Bird Count.
“The data collected by observers over the past century allow Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America,” according to the Society.
Organizers say that around 72,000 volunteers across the United States and Canada will take part in the count. The volunteers are organized into 2,400 local groups that document every bird seen within a 15-mile radius.
A summary of the 2014-15 Christmas Bird Count can be found here.
The annual event began in 1900, when ornithologist Frank Chapman suggested a Christmas Bird Census to count birds rather than hunt them, according to the Society.
Twenty seven birders held 25 bird counts on Christmas Day that year, says Audubon. The counters viewed around 90 species.
“The tradition of counting birds combined with modern technology and mapping is enabling researchers to make discoveries that were not possible in earlier decades,” says Audubon.
Birders can still join the 2015-16 count.