Christmas Bird Count Begins In CA
The 113th annual Christmas Bird Count is under way. In Marin County, volunteers are celebrating the newly designated wilderness area at Drakes Bay in Point Reyes, which is one of five stops on this year's Christmas Bird Count. Organizer David Wimpfheimer says the recent wilderness designation will help keep the area pristine so that biologists can better diagnose the health of local bird populations.
"If there's any changes in the bird populations, we can say that that is a result of the birds themselves, not as a result of the habitat changing."
Last month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a decision that allows the Drakes Bay Oyster Company operating permit to expire at Point Reyes National Seashore, and returns the area to wilderness.
The Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running Citizen Science survey in the world. It's not only fun for the volunteers, but provides critical data on population trends.
Wimpfheimer says the local bird count is good for conservation - and the economy.
"Birding is one of the most popular pastimes in the country. It's an $85-billion-a-year industry."
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reports that 83 percent of birders use public land, such as parks and wildlife refuges, to spot birds.