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Medora's annual Christmas bird count set for New Year's weekend

The annual Aubudon Society's annual Christmas bird count will be held at 8 a.m. Sunday at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

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Two bird watchers take in the scenery at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, North Dakota. (Contributed / Kate Sedlacek)

MEDORA, N.D. — For over a century, bird enthusiasts across the country have been counting birds from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 for the National Audubon Society ’s Annual Christmas Bird Count. This is the event's 122nd year.

In southwest North Dakota, the citizen science bird counting event will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday, at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, North Dakota. Participants will meet at 8 a.m. in the park’s South Unit Visitor Center, where they will form teams and disperse to cover designated surveillance zones.

Kate Sedlacek, who is a permanent park guide at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, helped coordinate the event. She encourages volunteers to bring warm clothing, binoculars, snacks and water.

“They do it in winter just to make sure you’re not getting your migratory (birds)... They look at bird count. So it’s type of species, number of these types of species and an individual count,” Sedlacek said. “In winter, it’s the species that are here year round. Typically, we get golden and bald eagles, grouse, owl species, American Robins that stay here. There’s about 30 some different species.”

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A sharp-tailed grouse perched in a tree at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. (Contributed/ Kate Sedlacek)

They also transcribe environmental conditions that impact birds, Sedlacek said.

“They also look at and record weather,” she said. “Like is there standing water or frozen water? Was it cloudy or sunny? Various environmental factors.”

The event typically draws a small group of eight to 12 people, but it’s a great opportunity to learn about birds, she said.

“We have a few super dedicated birders from Dickinson and Bismarck come out for it because they do a lot of the other birding counts around the area,” Sedlacek said. “That would honestly be a great time to meet people. We have one gentleman who is really wonderful with introducing newbies to… kind of teach people how to bird.”

For more information, call Theodore Roosevelt National Park at 701-623-4466.

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