Birders across Oklahoma will begin to participate in the National Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Counts next weekend.
This is the 113th year for Christmas Bird Counts, which are organized by Audubon Societies and other birding groups across the country.
Teams of birders go searching in assigned areas to count and identify birds to help gauge population trends.
“There is just a long tradition of it,” said Mark Howery, wildlife diversity biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
“For a bunch of people, this is their big event of the year in terms of birding. You would see more birds in the spring, but it got started as kind of a holiday thing.”
Howery is a member of the Cleveland County Audubon Society and has been coordinating Norman's Christmas Bird Count since 1982.
Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa have the oldest Christmas Bird Counts in Oklahoma, each starting more than 80 years ago.
“A single Christmas bird count doesn't seem that significant, but when you start stringing together 70 or 80 years of them, you can start picking up on trends,” Howery said.