Bird Count

Kelly Colgan Azar / Flickr

Every winter, a group of avian enthusiasts collect data on local bird populations for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. The Christmas Bird Count is the oldest citizen science project in the world, and it is returning to Pittsburgh on Dec. 30.

The information gives experts some insight into how climate change and habitat loss affect some bird species.

"We can go back from a year-to-year basis and make some observations on what's happening with various bird populations," said Chris Kubiak, education director or the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Get your binoculars ready, because the 114th annual Christmas bird count is set for Dec. 28 in Pittsburgh.

Before 1900, the Christmas “Side Hunt” was a popular American tradition where participants competed to see who could shoot and kill the most fowl. In opposition to the practice, ornithologist Frank Chapman created the Christmas Bird Census.

In its first year, 27 bird watchers from cities such as Toronto and Pacific Grove, California tallied about 90 bird species.