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Porter, Indiana - This year for the first time there will be two birding circles within Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park participating in the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world: the Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Counts will take place across the country from December 14, 2010 to January 5, 2011. Tens of thousands of volunteers throughout North America will brave winter weather to add a new layer to over a century of data.
“The Christmas Bird Count is all about the power of Citizen Science,” says Geoff LeBaron, Audubon's Christmas Bird Count Director. “Our theme is ’I Count’ because the work of tens of thousands of volunteers, extending over a century, really adds up.”
Counts are often family or community traditions that make for fascinating stories. Accuracy is assured by having new participants join an established group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle or can arrange in advance to count the birds at home feeders inside the circle and submit the results to a designated compiler.
A long standing community tradition will continue on December 18, 2010 with the survey at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Birding circle which covers the eastern part of the national lakeshore and the State Park. “We have a wonderful cadre of dedicated birders that have been doing this count for many years, picking up the torch from the first dunes Christmas count birders going back to December 24, 1916.” Stated State Park Interpreter Brad Bumgardner. “What we need are folks interested in counting birds at their backyard bird feeders. If you live in Beverly Shores, Pines, Chesterton, Porter, Dune Acres, or Michigan City from Washington Park and west of Franklin Street, your back yard bird feeders will fall in the circle.” Contact Brad Bumgardner before December 18 at 219-926-1390 to find out how to get your birds to count.
December 29 is the date for the inaugural count at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore West birding circle. Park Rangers and experienced birding volunteers will lead bird counts in areas in the west sections of the park. Contact Ranger Chirsty Gerlach by e-mail at Christine_Gerlach@nps.gov or (219)395-1885 to sign up for a hike in the park. If you live in Burns Harbor, Portage, South Haven, or Ogden Dunes your bird feeders fall in this circle. Contact Christy for more information on how your birds can count.
"The Christmas Bird Count becomes more important every year," said Audubon President David Yarnold. “The information gathered by its army of dedicated volunteers leads directly to solutions. At a time when people wonder if individual actions can make a difference, we know that our volunteers enable scientists to learn about the impacts of environmental threats like climate change and habitat loss. That’s good news not just for birds but for all of us.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 393 units of the National Park System ranging
from Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore includes 15 miles of the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan and 15,000 acres of beach, woods, marshes, and prairie in the northwest corner of Indiana. More than 2 million visitors come to this national park each year.