The annual Christmas Bird Count gets underway Wednesday in Wyoming - with folks headed out to about 20 locations statewide to chart species. Brian Rutledge with Audubon Wyoming, says the data collected over the years has shown how climate change and land-use affect bird populations - and there are disruptions to note in Wyoming.

"We've seen declines of rather significant proportions in what we would otherwise consider common birds. The eastern meadowlark is off over 40 percent."

Rutledge says the information is compiled worldwide, and while the focus is on birds, there is an understanding that changes relate to all species - and to people.

"Birds are a very dependable resource to tell us how we're doing - for all the denizens of that habitat."

The first count kicks off  near Riverton. Other trips are scheduled throughout the next three weeks, and Rutledge says more volunteers are needed.

In addition to those the BLM Buffalo Field office is  prepping to count eagles on January 14th.

That midwinter counts surveys eagles in the Powder River Basin.

Public information meetings will be held prior to the counts.

Meetings will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. in the following locations:

Sheridan          Jan. 10, 2012   Inner Circle, Sheridan County Library, 335 W Alger
Buffalo            Jan. 11, 2012   BLM Buffalo Field Office, 1425 Fort Street
Gillette            Jan. 12, 2012   Pioneer I Room, Campbell County Library, 2101 4-J Road

During last year’s survey, 54 volunteers counted 290 eagles throughout the Powder River Basin, including 200 bald eagles.  A total of 1,428 eagles have been counted since surveys of the Basin began in 2006.

To volunteer, or for additional information, contact Charlotte Darling at (307) 684-1045. For more information on the national program visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bird Initiative web site at

To join in an Audubon Christmas bird count near you contact your local Audubon branch.