Zion National Park Looking for Help With Annual Bird Count

Among the nearly 300 bird species seen in Zion National Park is the California condor. Photo by Desert Vu via flickr.

Like to count? Like birds? Like to count birds in Zion National Park?

If so, have the folks at Zion got a deal for you. The park's annual Christmas Bird Count is set for Saturday, December 20, 2008, and the park needs some volunteers to help with the counting. The count is open to birders of all skill levels.

This is Zion’s 37th year of participation in the bird count. To volunteer or to find out more information about the bird count, contact Claire Crow at 435-772-0212 or email her at .

The Zion National Park count takes place in a designated area 15 miles in diameter (about 177 square miles) where birders cover as much ground as possible within a 24-hour period. During the 2007 count, 5,784 individuals of 84 bird species were counted in Zion and vicinity.

The data collected by each group is sent to the National Audubon Society headquarters in New York and is published in a special book-sized edition of American Birds magazine.

This year marks the 109th anniversary of the National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count. It is the longest running citizen science project in the world. More than 55,000 volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies and the Pacific Islands will count and record every individual bird and bird species encountered during one calendar day.

Apart from its attraction as a social, sporting, and competitive event, the annual count reveals interesting and scientifically useful information on the early winter distribution patterns of various bird species and the over-all health of the environment. Articles in the Christmas Bird Count issues of American Birds helped ornithologists better understand the magnitude of the effects of the West Nile virus on regional populations.

In June of 2007, Christmas Bird Count results were pivotal to the Common Birds in Decline Report. Count results from 1900 to the present are available through Audubon’s website.

For over a century, the Christmas Bird Count has provided invaluable insight into the status of bird populations. The count has proven to be a perfect example of the importance and value of volunteer-generated data.

Traveler trivia: Over the years 291 bird species have been counted in Zion. You can find a list of them here.