Volunteers take part in Bradenton's 109th Christmas Bird Count

MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK — They were out in the woods before dawn, by the truckload and on foot.

They all carried binoculars.

"Oh, there’s a redwing blackbird, just flew down," noted one volunteer.

"Where'd he land?" replied another, swinging around to view the dramatic flash of red peeking from the shiny coat of a creature flitting in the trees.

Equipped with notebooks, rain gear, bug repellant and bird books, nearly 40 volunteers Monday took part in the Audubon Society’s 109th annual Christmas Bird Count at Myakka River State Park.

Several more local counts are slated for Manatee and Sarasota counties in the next couple of weeks.

Those taking part are among tens of thousands of volunteers from Alaska to Belize who will spend part of their holiday season in the wild, counting birds. The wildlife census this year continues from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5, officials said.

Information gathered here will be added to numbers compiled elsewhere to help scientists protect the birds and their habitats, and to learn more about how they are faring, officials said.

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