The mountain bluebird is a winter visitor in San Diego. Photo by Elaine R. Wilson via Wikimedia Commons

The holidays are just about here, but Saturday’s really for the birds because the San Diego chapter of the National Audubon Society will conduct its annual Christmas bird count.

Roughly 150 volunteers will fan out to various sites around the southern half of the region to count how many birds they see and log the number of different species. With 2,400 chapters taking a bird census in the Western Hemisphere, the Audubon Society calls the event the largest citizen science project in the world.

Totaling up the number of winged creatures provides a snapshot of the state of the ecosystem in a way that scientists couldn’t do on their own, according to the society of bird lovers.

The count will focus on a 15-mile radius around the Sweetwater River, which will encompass the South Bay and Tijuana River Valley, and San Diego up to North Park and University Heights. The circle also includes the Sweetwater Reservoir to the east and five miles off the coastline to the west.

Last year’s count found 209 species, making San Diego the fourth most- diverse region.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.