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Rydell and Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuges to host Christmas Bird Count

Administered by the National Audubon Society, the Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running citizen science bird project in the U.S., and this year marks its 123rd year.

Christmas Bird Count
Rydell and Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuges will host their annual Christmas Bird Count on Thursday, Dec. 15.
Courtesy / Pixabay
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ERSKINE, Minn. — Rydell and Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuges will host their 8th annual Christmas Bird Count on Thursday, Dec. 15.

Administered by the National Audubon Society, this public event is the longest-running citizen science bird project in the U.S., and this year marks its 123rd year. Counts are held in designated areas throughout the U.S. between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5 each year.

According to a release, information from the counts provides important information on winter ranges of birds, population trends and how a changing climate alters winter bird distribution.

“Although most of the migratory birds that breed in the area have headed south by now, this count provides a unique opportunity to observe a number of Arctic-breeding species that consider northern Minnesota their ‘warm’ winter haven,” the release said.

Last year, counts were completed in over 2,500 locations, including Canada and Latin America. More than 75,000 people participated in the counts and over 50 million birds were tallied.

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Within the 15-mile diameter count circle stretching from Erskine west to the center of Glacial Ridge Refuge, participants have observed 50 different bird species over the past seven years, including northern shrikes, Bohemian waxwings, bald eagles, pileated and red-bellied woodpeckers, northern goshawks and Lapland longspurs.

“Those interested in participating do not need to be expert birders. The event can serve as a great learning experience for beginning birders and those individuals will be paired up with Refuge staff or experienced volunteers,” the release said. “We’re hoping this event will provide a neat outdoor opportunity, whether you’re an adult looking for a new experience, or a student engaged in distance or hybrid learning.”

Registration is required and interested participants are asked to meet at the Rydell NWR Visitor Center at 8 a.m. for coffee and a brief meeting with their binoculars and a bird book. If attendees don't own any, the refuge has some on hand for use.

Participants can count from a vehicle or on foot, depending on their preference and the weather conditions that day.

Refuge staff will host a potluck lunch back at the Visitor Center at noon. After a hearty lunch, folks can “call it a day” or can go back out and continue to search for birds.

Those who live within the Rydell and Glacial Ridge Count Circle can even participate by reporting bird sightings at feeders from the comfort of their own homes.

If interested in taking part in the count, RSVP no later than Dec. 13 by calling Wildlife Biologist Ben Walker at (218) 230-5563 or emailing him at benjamin_walker@fws.govcan. Ben can also be contacted if there are any questions about the count or need more information.

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