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Keizer residents will have the opportunity to participate in the longest-running animal census in the world, the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on Saturday, Dec. 19.

Rich Ford, a Keizer resident, is the sector leader for the Keizer area. An experienced birdwatcher himself, he welcomes people of all ages and skill levels to join the CBC, from “people who have never birded to people who can identify birds solely by sound.”

The data from the CBC is collected by researchers at Cornell University. It has been used to track declining bird populations and also to determine whether conservation efforts are helping bird populations.

In addition to helping birds, the data from the count can shed light on environmental problems for humans, such as groundwater contamination.

On the day of the bird count, participants will meet at a coffee shop at 7:30 a.m. and, depending on their numbers, stay in one group or split into several.

The counts are only approximate, owing to birds flying around and other limitations. Counters try not to duplicate counts. For instance, Ford said, if they see a group of Canada geese flying overhead and 20 minutes later see a group of the same bird feeding on the ground, they won’t count the second group unless they are sure they are distinctly different birds.

Anyone who wants to participate in the Keizer section of this year’s CBC should contact Rich Ford at (503)510-9583 or richford@windermere.com.