By Bay City News Service
Bird enthusiasts have fanned out across San Francisco and northern San Mateo County today to take part in the Golden Gate Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count.
Bird count organizer and compiler Dan Murphy said this morning that about 125 volunteers in 18 teams had headed out to various spots, counting as many birds and species as possible between sunrise and sunset.
"We have a team downtown, one in Fort Mason, one in the Presidio, one at Lands End," Murphy said. "We have three separate teams at Ocean Beach."
Golden Gate Audubon Society spokeswoman Ilana Debare, who joined teams combing the coast near the Cliff House and in the Presidio, said the clear weather was making it a great day for bird watching.
"We really lucked out," she said. "It's a beautiful day, great visibility."
Additional teams were stationed south of the city in South San Francisco, Colma, and Sharp Park in Pacifica, Murphy said.
The San Francisco-area bird count has taken place since 1983. It is one of 20 that occur in the Bay Area each year and one of more than 2,000 that happen throughout North America between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5, Murphy said.
The results are compiled into a national scientific database that helps promote the conservation of threatened habitats, guide local development projects, monitor the status of threatened bird populations, and detect patterns in weather phenomena, Murphy said.
In 2011, 176 separate species and 60,704 individual birds were tallied in the San Francisco count, Murphy said.
"I think that was a record for us," he said.
The results of today's count will discussed at a dinner at the Presidio tonight.
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