A longtime tradition continues Sunday as the 114th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count returns to Mathews.
The count, which takes place inside a circle which includes a large portion of Mathews County, the Chesapeake Bay coastline and a part of Ware Neck in Gloucester, dates back to 1900, when ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed an alternative to the recreational hunting of birds that usually occurred on Christmas Day.
Compiler Don McKelvey will meet participants who need their packets and who are not counting owls between 7 and 7:30 a.m. at the Parks and Recreation parking lot next to Mathews High School.
The event is free, but donations will be accepted. American birds and local count results may be viewed online.
According to the National Audubon Society, tens of thousands of volunteers take part in bird counts throughout the world, and many have made the events family tradition among generations.
Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations, and to guide conservation actions.