This is the 115th year of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, when thousands of volunteers throughout the country become citizen scientists for a day, venturing out with binoculars and field guides to count bird species for their areas.
The annual census enables Audubon and other organizations to assess the long-term health of bird populations.
The following Christmas Bird Counts are scheduled for the Flathead Valley and surrounding areas during December and January 2015. To sign up for the Bigfork and Kalispell counts, contact Dan Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org, (406) 857-3143 or (406) 270-5941 (cell).
Bigfork: The 41st annual Bigfork Christmas Bird Count will be held Saturday, Dec. 20. The Bigfork count circle is centered at the Little Brown Church north of Bigfork. It includes more than 30 miles of the Swan and Flathead rivers, the north end of Flathead Lake and habitats that vary from Lower Valley croplands to spruce-fir and cedar-hemlock forests in the Swan and Crane Mountain foothills.
Kalispell: The 16th annual Kalispell Christmas Bird Count will be held Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015. The count circle is centered at West Reserve Drive and U.S. Highway 93. It includes Evergreen, much of the Flathead River corridor including the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area, Happy Valley, Herron Park and Kuhn’s Wildlife Area.
The traditional start to the Kalispell count is a group breakfast at 7 a.m. This year, participants will meet at the Montana Club, 1301 S. Main St., to assign segments and set up field teams for the day’s efforts.
Contacts for other area bird counts are as follows:
Sunday, Dec. 14
• Eureka: Lynda and Lewis Young at email@example.com or (406) 889-3492.
• Glacier National Park: Lisa Bate at firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 888-7833.
• Libby: Pete Mickelson at email@example.com or (907)-253-5111.
Sunday, Dec. 21
• Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge: Brian Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or 721-1467 (home) or 327-0405 (work).
• Upper Swan: Jody Wolf at email@example.com or (406) 754-4002.
Saturday, Jan. 3
• Donald Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 295-4291.