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Portland Audubon seeks birdwatchers to spread out all over the metro area on Jan. 5

Portland Audubon's 93rd annual Christmas Bird Count seeks birdwatchers to spread out all over the metro area on Jan. 5. Locally, volunteers will wield their binoculars and spotting scopes, looking for a wide variety of birds that frequent the Milwaukie area.

Mark Eaton looks at a bald eagle through a scope during last years Christmas Bird Count."Christmas Bird Counts have been conducted in North America since 1900. Today, there are hundreds of counts coast to coast," said Dan Strong, the leader of the Milwaukie sector.

"This timeframe marks a period where some species are still migrating to a final winter destination, perhaps due to food supply or weather," he said.

The activity is significant because data from CBC's and other bird counts provide valuable information on the health of bird populations and habitat throughout North America.

"Data produced is sent to national Audubon for input into a massive database that may be utilized for observing trends," Strong said.

Climate change

Strong noted that in 2014, the "national Audubon produced a report predicting climate change may affect 588 species of North American birds by reducing their current climatic range over 50 percent by the year 2080."

In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency has cited CBC data as an indicator of climate change in a 2012 report.

"It's fun to be a part of the longest-running database of ornithological information in the world. It is truly citizen science at its best, as most counters are not wildlife professionals, but simply love birds and nature," Strong said.

"Often, counters return to the same sector or area year after year. There is a sense of pride relocating those familiar species, perhaps in the small, tucked-away wetlands, at the backyard feeder that is always well stocked, in the weed patch or in the small grove of fruit-bearing trees," he said.

"And, of course, there is always the excitement of finding a rarity," Strong added.

Those interested in joining the Milwaukie group as they comb the wetlands and other sites in the area are asked to sign up in advance by visiting audubonportland.org/local-birding/cbc. Once there, scroll down to below the sector map, look for Strong's contact information and send him an email. He will reply with the address of the meeting spot and the time.

For the birds

What: Portland Audubon Christmas Bird Count

When: Saturday, Jan. 5

Details: To sign up for the CBC and to see a history of the national bird count, visit audubonportland.org/local-birding/cbc.

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