On Saturday, December 14 we will be counting birds within a 15 mile radius of Rock Bridge Elementary school in south Columbia. This count circle is broken into many areas, each with a leader and helpers who try to find and count as many of the early-winter birds as possible. Most groups start early (sometimes before sunrise) and count for as much of the day as possible, until it’s time for everyone to warm up with a chili dinner (full announcement here) and to tally up our totals for the day.

Participating in a Christmas bird count can be a great experience for birders of all abilities. Beginners may find it easier to learn to ID birds in mid-December, when there aren’t quite so many confusing species to identify. Intermediate birders can benefit from birding with experts who have led counts on their areas for many years, and who know where to find the area specialties.

If you think you would like to join the Columbia CBC, contact chapter president Dr. Laura Hillman (hillmanl@health.missouri.edu; home, 573-442-3703; cell, 573-397-1010). She can answer your questions and hook you up with a group that needs more counters.

For more information about the long history of this annual event, check out the National Audubon Society website:  http://www.audubon.org/join-christmas-bird-count.