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FARMINGTON — The 117th annual National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count will provide a challenge for local bird enthusiasts this weekend.

Bird counts started today and will continue around the country through Jan. 5, according to the National Audubon Society. The Farmington bird count will be this weekend, followed by a Chaco Culture National Historical Park count on Monday.

Participating birders record the number and species of birds they observe during a certain time. That data is then compiled in a national database that can be used by scientists.

This year, birders will gather at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Riverside Nature Center, located in Animas Park off Browning Parkway, and spend several hours exploring the trails along the Animas River and counting the birds. Other groups will drive or walk other routes, including one at Farmington Lake. For more information, call the nature center at 505-599-1422.

On Monday, Chaco Culture National Historical Park will host its annual bird count. People interested in counting birds at Chaco Canyon can meet at 9 a.m. at the visitor center. For more information, call 505-786-7014.

There will also be bird counts in Durango, Cortez and Pagosa Springs, Colo. More information about those counts can be found at audubon.org.

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