Burrowing owls at Great Sand Dunes (photo NPS)

Article by Kathy Faz

Great Sand Dunes is looking for birders of all skill levels to volunteer in Audubon’s longest-running wintertime tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). This year’s event will be held at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on Saturday, December 29th. Great Sand Dunes is one of many locations nationwide participating in this survey. The park is also encouraging those within the count circle who have bird feeders to join in the fun.
Volunteers should meet at 8:30 am at the Great Sand Dunes visitor center conference room (about ½ mile past the entrance station) for event instructions, and hot drinks. Volunteers will receive free entrance to the Park and Preserve for assisting in the bird count. Interested individuals are encouraged to bring binoculars, cameras, snacks, water, sturdy winter footwear, and bird books, if possible.
To register for the bird count at Great Sand Dunes, visit https://netapp.audubon.org/cbc/public/, and contact Dewane Mosher at 719-378-6363 or dewane_mosher@nps.gov. Dewane will provide a map of the count circle and a winter bird checklist upon registration.
The longest running citizen science survey in the world, Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count takes place nationwide in late December each year. The Christmas Bird Count began over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities changed the course of ornithological history. On Christmas Day in 1900, the small group posed an alternative to the “side hunt,” a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals. Instead, it was proposed that they identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the world’s most significant citizen-based conservation effort – and a more than century-old institution. The CBC is vital in monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds across the Western Hemisphere, and the data, which are 100% volunteer generated, have become a crucial part of the U.S. Government’s natural history monitoring database.
Please go to the Audubon website for additional information, news, and history on the Christmas Bird Count: https://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count.