Enjoy an outdoors break in the season

As reported on in Wednesday’s Minot Daily News, we are not just approaching Christmas, but also annual Christmas Bird Counts.

It’s beginning to look a lot like weather will impact positively on participation. Warmer weather than last year appears likely.

The Christmas Bird Count, the oldest and largest citizen science project in the world, serves an important function – keeping tabs on relative bird populations from year to year. For many, including bird watchers of all seasoning, it’s a longtime tradition.

The Bird Counts are also opportunities to get outside with friends and enjoy the outdoors before (apparently) the heavier winter sets in.

With the rush and responsibilities of the holiday season, Bird Counts are an exceptional way to take a quiet break from it all. It’s important to note that it doesn’t take a veteran participant to help in the effort.

Laurie Richardson, Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, will be leading bird counts at Lostwood NWR Dec. 18 and Des Lacs NWR Dec. 19. Participants are asked to arrive at refuge headquarters by 8 a.m. on the day of the count. Anyone interested in birding, regardless of experience, is invited to be part of the annual event. Her contact number is 848-2722, extension 17. Observers will be assigned to one of four routes at each of the two NWRs. Each survey area is a circle of 15 miles in diameter.

The Christmas Bird Count at J. Clark Salyer NWR near Upham is scheduled for Dec. 19 at 8 a.m. For information, contact Gary Eslinger, J. Clark Salyer NWR, at 768-2548, extension 115.

Minot’s Christmas Bird Count is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 22. Birder Sherry Leslie said those who would like to participate should meet at Broadway McDonald’s at 7:45 a.m. on that date. Leslie can be contacted at 725-4389.

As days roll by, and get shorter, opportunities like this will present themselves less often. It’s a Christmas tradition that is also a gift you can give yourself – and feel good about.