An annual bird counting event will be taking place on Dec. 27, hosted by the Golden Gate Audubon Society.
Gathering just before dawn and going until dusk, birders will band together at 16 points on land (and one on water) to count varieties of birds for fun and science. San Francisco’s count is one of 2,200 similar events that take place “from Guam to Labrador and from Alaska to Chile” during the last two weeks of the year.
Last year’s count drew 128 bird observers to the field, who counted a record number of 184 species and 73,095 individual birds.
While the event is a fun social gathering for enthusiasts, it’s also an important scientific study. The count is used to track unusual or rare birds in the area, such as a Brown Booby which was seen near Point Lobos last year—a worrying sign, as the birds are generally spotted in the tropic Pacific.
In addition, 1,390 Brown Pelicans were seen, and 918 Heermann’s Gulls, both of which should have moved south to Mexico for the winter.
Drought, climate change and food supplies could all be factors in an evolving San Francisco bird population. “With information from the San Francisco Christmas Bird Count and others along the California coast ornithologists might be able to develop theories of why this phenoma is occurring,” read a news release by the Golden Gate Audubon Society.