On Dec 18, area families, students, birders and scientists - all armed with binoculars, bird guides and check-lists - will be out before dawn to count birds.
The Mountaineer Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC), held each year, is centered on the Morgantown Airport and, like all counts, is a circle with a diameter of 15 miles.
Both advanced and novice birders are welcome to participate. There is no charge. To register: 304-379-4492 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The goal is to count all the birds within 7 1/2 miles of where the two runways intersect. The CBC circle is divided into areas, which are covered by teams. A team is usually out from dawn to dusk, with individual participants joining in for as much of the day as they choose. Again this year, LeJay Graffious is the coordinator and compiler and will set up teams based on the number of people interested in taking part. The count usually has a minimum of four teams covering the count area.
Owling is another phase of the count. In this section, birders listen for owls and other nocturnal calls or sightings.
Those with bird feeders can conduct "feeder counts" of the number of each species seen at their feeders on Dec 18, then call Graffious to report their totals Dec 19 and Dec 20.
To make certain every species is counted, any birds completely missed on count day can be footnoted as "seen during count week" if spotted within three days before or after Dec 18. Count Week for the Morgantown CBC is Dec 15-21.
The final tally report is sent to be included in the National Audubon Society's 111th Christmas Bird Count.