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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

’Tis the season for Christmas bird count in Arkansas

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Thursday, December 14, 2023   

If you want to contribute to more than a century of science about the feathered friends in your community, the National Audubon Society's 124th Christmas Bird Count starts this weekend in Arkansas.

The Natural State is home to more than 420 bird species.

Kevin Krajcir, compiler for the Christmas Bird Counts in Little Rock and Lonoke County, said the activity is the longest-running community science project, providing opportunities for people of all experience levels to contribute to vital scientific research. He added Arkansas has 30 Christmas Bird Count circles happening this year.

"Folks go out to these predetermined circles, and they count every bird that they can within those circles," Krajcir explained. "The circles are formed around a center point and have a 15-mile diameter around that point. For example, Little Rock: The point is downtown and includes a 15-mile diameter around the city."

Krajcir noted a study from Cornell University, titled "3 Billion Birds," reveals a significant decline in bird populations. The analysis, informed by Christmas Bird Count data and other data sets, found North America has lost nearly one-fourth of its total bird population since 1970.

Krajcir emphasized the National Audubon Society's collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in leveraging Christmas Bird Count data to predict trends in bird populations. He added the long-term data reveal how climate change affects the habitat and range of birds.

"They've done these habitat suitability models for about 600 different bird species using Christmas Bird Count and other data," Krajcir pointed out. "They found that if we don't work to limit climate change, then we could put up to two-thirds of these birds, so about 400 different species of the 600 analyzed, on the brink of extinction."

Krajcir noted the Little Rock count begins Saturday, followed by the Lonoke count on Sunday. The National Audubon Society's annual nationwide Christmas Bird Count runs today through Jan. 5 and includes the U.S. and Canada, as well as Central and South America.

Disclosure: Audubon Arkansas contributes to our fund for reporting on Animal Welfare, Environment, and Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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