Spruce grouse in a spruce tree in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
© Yva Momatiuk and John Eastcott/Minden Picture
The Christmas Bird Count begins
Today marks the start of the annual Christmas Bird Count, a bird census sponsored by the National Audubon Society that also happens to be the longest-running citizen scientist survey in the world. Each year the count runs from December 14 to January 5, giving bird lovers across North America a chance to join in, get outside, and spot some birds. The findings recorded by participants are collected and used to gauge the health of various bird populations. This information is then used to focus conservation efforts on particular species and geographical areas.
One bird you might see if you participate in the northern part of the US or Canada is the spruce grouse. The bird can be hard to spot—it's known for sitting so still that you don't notice it until you're a few feet away and it takes flight to escape. The spruce grouse's skittish behavior has earned it the nickname 'fool's hen.'