Volunteers count birds on Portsmouth Island during the 2019 Christmas Bird Count. Photo. P. Vankevich

Update, Dec. 15, 2021: Covid/Omicron variant watch. There may be restrictions on participating in these two bird counts, especially for Portsmouth Island. If you are interested in participating, contact the compiler right after Christmas when we will have a better idea of a possible new wave spread.

Following tradition, the Ocracoke and Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Counts will be held on the last days of the year, with Portsmouth on Dec. 30 and Ocracoke on Dec. 31.

This year, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, now in its 122nd year, is expected to have nearly 80,000 volunteers to tally birds in more than 2,600 locations across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Each individual count is performed in a count circle with a diameter of 15 miles. The data gathered from these surveys help to track bird populations and can flag declining or increasing numbers of a given species.

The two local counts will be entered into the NC Bird Atlas, in its first of a five-year project to gather information about the state’s bird populations.

Ocracoke has run a count every year since 1981 and Portsmouth since 1988, with a couple of cancellations due to adverse weather. The historical results of these counts can be found on the Audubon Christmas Bird Count website.

To participate or for more information, contact the compiler Peter Vankevich, text/cell 202 468-2871 and petevankevich@gmail.com.