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Annual Christmas bird count happens today

By Paige Sedgewick, Reporter, psedgewick@kcfw.com
Published On: Dec 29 2013 04:38:58 PM MST
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Today marks the 15th annual Christmas bird count in Kalispelll. There are about 30 people around Kalispell, set up and counting any bird that they may see.

This tradition started in 1900 by the National Audubon Society, and now is a tradition across the country. The Christmas bird count happens between December 14th through January 5th.

The crew in Kalispell are covering a 15 mile diameter with Reserve and Highway 93 as their center location.

One Northern Rockies conservation officer explained that this is the longest running collection of data for birds in this continent and why it's important to keep up the tradition.

"We are able to see trends in bird populations, changes at the local level, at the national level, and it's really been an interesting data set. You learn a lot about the birds, but it's also a social thing. It's a nice tradition for the holidays, people will get out and spend the day outdoors," said Dan Casey. 

Casey said that the Flathead Valley  probably has the highest bird diversity in the state. They believe it's because of the amount of open water, agricultural land and forest land. He says they usually count 75 different species of bird in the Flathead County.

The group was split into 16 different sections. All the people participating were scattered anywhere from the Airport, West Valley, Kila, Smith Lake Area or other spots in Kalispell.