SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — The Christmas Bird Count, an event that turns a common hobby into proven statistics, is an annual tradition that dates back more than 100 years in Sioux City.

Bill Huser and Roger Dietrich were on a mission Saturday: to find winter wrens and Carolina wrens, both species of birds that are rarely seen in Siouxland. Their effort is all for the birds, one might say, but the numbers they compile are vital information and are added to the longest-running wildlife census in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Researchers will be able to take that information on how many birds we see but also the effort it takes to see that many birds and examine that information and draw conclusions about population trends,” said Huser.

The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when ecologists first started to worry about bird conservation. The count is run by the National Audubon Society who sorts through the data submitted by tens of thousands of volunteers. Dietrich spoke on why he enjoys taking part in this each holiday season.

“It’s always fun to see different places, and you always see interesting things when you get out in nature especially when you’re doing it with friends, and today, we have a special purpose doing it for the Christmas Bird Count, but like Bill said, we do it year-round,” said Dietrich.

The pair of friends were able to track nine different species in just an hour and still had other spots they wanted to explore, but Huser said some of these birds won’t be around much longer this year.

“This year, they probably haven’t stopped their migration yet. They’ve been slow to go south because of the milder temperatures, but as things get colder here, some of the birds we may see today may continue on south,” said Huser.

Dietrich hopes to have as much luck as he did today when he participates in Yankton’s Christmas Bird Count.