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The Missouri Department of Conservation is asking for some Christmas-time help counting birds.

The National Audubon Society’s 120th annual Christmas Bird Count is Saturday through Jan. 5 and includes about 20 counts in Missouri, according to a news release from the MDC.

The Christmas bird count enlists thousands of experienced birder volunteers across the United States, Canada and other countries in the Western Hemisphere to count birds over 24-hour periods.

Each count has a coordinator that assigns portions of a 15-mile-wide circle wherein participants count all birds they see and hear. The data gathered on winter bird populations helps track long-term trends.

More information is available at audubon.org/conservation/join-christmas-bird-count.

The most local count listed by the MDC is Saturday in Columbia. Interested people should contact Laura Hillman at [email protected]

More information and more dates and locations of this year’s counts in Missouri are available at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-encourages-birders-help-audubon-christmas-bird-count-0.

Sarah Kendrick, MDC state ornithologist, recommended anyone who has not participated in a count before tell the organizer of one they’re interested in, so fledgling counters can be placed with experienced birders. Participants should also share their level of birding knowledge with the organizer so teams have someone with the experience to properly identify birds by sight or sound.

Most counts will be held regardless of weather, unless the weather is dangerous, so dress warmly. Bring snacks and beverages for a long day.

More information on Missouri birds is available through MDC’s online Field Guide at nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/search.

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