The 2019 Christmas Bird Count runs from 12:01 a.m.-11:59 p.m. on Dec. 22.

The 2019 Christmas Bird Count runs from 12:01 a.m.-11:59 p.m. on Dec. 22. (Courtesy photo)

Forty years ago, five young birders organized the first Santa Maria/Guadalupe Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Margaret Cox, Mark Brown, Matt Brown, Rene Clasen and John Deacon used paper USGS maps, rulers, pencils, protractors and compasses to draw the CBC circle.

A total of 30 birders braved the elements to record more than 180 species, placing them within the top 25 counts in the United States.

The Santa Maria/Guadalupe Christmas Bird Count circle has remained almost unchanged since it was first drawn in 1979. This year’s Christmas Bird Count is on Dec. 22 and lasts from 12:01 a.m.-11:59 p.m.

Some birders will be out during the night’s darkest hours searching for barn owls, screech owls and great horned owls, but most will be happy to spend most of the daylight hours on Sunday, counting species and numbers of species. The count will happen rain or shine.

This year, the Christmas Bird Count will mobilize some 72,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,500 locations across the Western Hemisphere.

The CBC utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone. Data compiled in the count will contribute to a vast community science network that continues a tradition stretching back more than 100 years.

Birders of all ages and ability are welcome to contribute to this fun, nationwide community science project, which provides ornithologists with a crucial snapshot of our native bird populations during the winter months.

Each individual count is performed in a count circle with a diameter of 15 miles. At least 10 volunteers, including a compiler to coordinate the process, count in each circle. The volunteers break up into small parties and follow assigned routes, which change little from year to year, counting every bird they see.

In most count circles, some people also watch feeders instead of following routes.

To sign up for the count, contact John Deacon,

— John Deacon for Santa Maria/Guadalupe Christmas Bird Count.