The Potomac Valley Audubon Society has set Dec. 15 and Jan. 5 as the dates for this winter's annual Eastern Panhandle Christmas Bird Counts.
These local-area counts are part of a volunteer-based Christmas Bird Count that has been conducted throughout the western hemisphere every year since 1900 under the auspices of the National Audubon Society.
The purpose is to monitor the status and distribution of early-winter bird populations.
Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day.
The Dec. 15 count, the Charles Town count, encompasses a circle that is centered near Charles Town and stretches from the Shannondale area at the east to near Middleway at the west. The circle for the Jan. 5 count, the Inwood count, is centered near Shanghai in Berkeley County and includes the west side of Martinsburg and Inwood to the east and the Stotler's Crossroads/Greenwood section of Morgan County to the west.
The Charles Town count has been held every year since 1952, and the Inwood count has been held every year since 1953.
Both experienced and novice birders are welcome to join in this season's counts. Novice volunteers will be teamed with those who have more experience. All those who participate must register beforehand with PVAS.
To register and/or to obtain more information, contact Bob Dean at 304-754-3042 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full information is available on the PVAS website at www.potomacaudubon.org.
The data collected from each year's Christmas Bird Count are folded into what is now the longest-running database in ornithology, representing over 100 years of continuous information. This database is used to help spot trends in bird populations, which in turn can help identify shifts in environmental conditions.