If you’re looking for a wildlife-viewing experience that also helps conservation efforts, there are still volunteer opportunities to help out with the annual Arizona Christmas Bird Counts. 

The count program is a bird population survey that has been coordinated annually by the National Audubon Society since 1900. This year’s counting events started on Dec. 14 and will continue through Jan. 5, 2013. For each count, volunteers (including those from the Arizona Game and Fish Department) will take to the field for one calendar day to record every bird species and every individual bird sighted within a designated 15-mile diameter area. 

The data collected will be added to an extensive database that enables monitoring of winter bird populations across North America and helps in assessing the overall health of the environment.

Volunteer help is needed on most of these counts. This year, there is no participation fee (in past years, a $5 fee had been charged at some events to defray a portion of the cost of tabulating and publishing the overall count results). Some of the counting events hold a compilation dinner at the end of the day where results are tabulated and stories shared. Check with the local coordinator.

For a schedule of counting events, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/bird_count.shtml or http://www.azfo.org

Image courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department

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