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Christmas Bird Count starts this weekend

READ MORE: Christmas Bird Count starts this weekend
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It's going to be a big month for bird watchers across the Carolinas. Christmastime means it's time for counting birds with the Audubon Society.

Beginning this weekend, area bird watchers are going to head outside to wetlands across the area to try and count as many birds as they can find. It's called the Christmas Bird Count, and it's put on by the Audubon Society every year.

You can almost think about it as a census for the birds. Bird watchers and scientists want to know all they can about the bird populations from year to year. The data they collect dates back to 1900.

"Show how populations are changing, or show where they might be wintering," Wilmington Bird County coordinator Sam Cooper said. "They may come further south or stay further north, so it's a nice bank of information to show how the birds are changing or how the habitat is changing."

In our area, there are three bird counts taking place this month. The first will focus on the Hampstead area, anywhere from Holly Shelter to Lea Island.

In New Hanover County, the Wilmington Bird Count will cover an area from the Cape Fear River to Masonboro Island to Carolina Beach.

The last will be in Brunswick County, covering Oak Island, Southport and Bald Head Island.

With all the birds in our area, it's no small task. In fact, our area has one of the richest populations of birds anywhere

"The three counts in coastal Southeastern North Carolina are often in the top five percent of all the Christmas Bird Counts in North America," Cooper said.

The event is open to the public, and only an interest in birds is required to participate. As Cooper says, the more eyes the better.

"You never know what you're going to get," he said. "We are bound by a day, so we may have a balmy 70 degree December day like today, which we'd be fortunate. But we're often combating fog, wind, rain, and we take whatever's dealt for us that day, and that can actually affect the count results.>

If you're interested in participating in this year's count you need to contact one of the coordinators beforehand. The first event is Sunday in Hampstead. Click here to register.

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