One, two, cheep – join the Christmas bird count!

Forget French hens, turtle doves and partridges in pear trees. This Saturday, December 18, Tacomans have the chance to get outside and count real Northwest birds for the holidays – and join thousands of others around the country in the longest-running community science project in the world.

One, Two, Cheep – Join the Christmas Bird Count!

Spot and count birds in Tacoma parks Dec. 18 in a 122-year-old community science holiday tradition.

Forget French hens, turtle doves and partridges in pear trees. This Saturday, December 18, Tacomans have the chance to get outside and count real Northwest birds for the holidays – and join thousands of others around the country in the longest-running community science project in the world. It’s the Christmas Bird Count, led by the Audubon Society, and thanks to the Tahoma Audubon Society branch you can sign up to count birds all over the city, including many Tacoma parks.

“The beauty and stillness of the parks in the early morning was wonderful,” says Daniel Cuevas, Tahoma Audubon’s vice-president, who took part in the Christmas Bird Count for the first time last year at China Lake, Snake Lake and the Tacoma Community College forests. “And I learned that black-capped chickadees can be quite territorial!”

China-Lake bird watching

The Count divides countries around the world into circular zones with a 15-mile radius, which are then subdivided into smaller “areas” to better gather and sort data of birds spotted. Signing up for one of the four areas within Tacoma is easy. Just check out the map at tahomaaudubon.org/community-science, pick your area and click the link to sign up with an Audubon coordinator. You’ll receive instructions on how to count and note birds you see, plus links to bird ID guides, apps and more on the Audubon Society website.

“You can count birds anywhere with a habitat, which includes most Tacoma parks and even some backyards,” notes Britt McGrath, Tahoma Audubon’s education and outreach manager, who was Cuevas’ counting buddy last year. Together, they counted 46 species.

Parks covered in the Count include Point Defiance Park, China Lake, Snake Lake (the Tacoma Nature Center), Dickman Mill, Swan Creek Park, Wapato Park and Dune Peninsula, and the variety of habitats between those mean a variety of birds, too – way beyond French hens and partridges.

Swift green Anna’s hummingbirds, dark-eyed Juncos, spotted towhees, chickadees, robins, flickers, sparrows, eagles and crows – every bird counts in the Christmas Bird Count.