A Christmas Bird Count will be held at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday, Dec. 18, starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Oak Savanna Learning Center (16797 289th Ave NW, Zimmerman, MN 55398).

Sherburne refuge volunteers survey winter bird species within a radius extending 7.5 miles in all directions from the intersection of Sherburne County Road 9 and County Road 5.

Although no more volunteers are needed for this year’s count, the refuge could still use help in another way. For those who live within 15 miles of the count area, it would be greatly appreciated if you cleaned and filled your bird feeders at least three days before the count.

Additionally, please be aware that on the 18th, vehicles may be driving past your home with their occupants fixing their binoculars on your property. Please don’t be concerned. The observers are only interested in the species and numbers of birds on your property.

The Christmas Bird Count is a nationwide activity organized by the National Audubon Society. Reports from all participating groups are tallied by Audubon and other birding organizations such as the Minnesota Ornithological Union.

The final tally provides valuable information on the number of bird species inhabiting each corner of the country during that window of time.

This data is also used to track long-term trends in bird populations and distribution. The first Christmas Bird Count took place in 1900 as an alternative to the tradition of shooting as many birds and other game as possible on Christmas.

Since then, counts have spread and now take place from Alaska to Antarctica. Tens of thousands of volunteers participate, making it the largest and longest-running “citizen science” survey in the world. The data have been used to detect declines in populations of many bird species. They have also shown increases in species such as bald eagles.

Local data for Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge is used to track changes in bird populations over time. Additionally, it can be pooled with other areas to detect population patterns over a large area.

The Minnesota Ornithological Union has records for the Sherburne NWR count that date back to 1966. Last year, the Sherburne CBC observed many birds including numerous common species such as blue jays and chickadees to less common species including a sharpshinned hawk and a red-shouldered hawk.

The Christmas Bird Count at the refuge would not be possible without a dedicated group of volunteers as well as support from the Friends of Sherburne.

Sherburne Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and is located near the cities of Princeton, Zimmerman, and St. Cloud, in central Minnesota.

The mission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

The organization is both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov.

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