Eight teams of both professional and amateur bird watchers will gather in Aiken on Friday for the Augusta-Aiken Christmas Bird Count. The count is held by the National Audubon Society's Augusta-Aiken chapter. Aiken Count coordinator Calvin Zippler said that each year, teams of two to four people gather in a 15-mile circumference throughout Aiken where they count individual birds and the different species seen. The circle takes up half of Hitchcock Woods and spans beyond Interstate 20 and most of Aiken State Natural Area, said Zippler. "What I do is assign individuals to a team leader," he explained. "The team leader tells them where and when to meet. Some know the birds quite well and can identify them, and the other ones help keep records and spot the birds," he said. It is up to the individual teams when and for how long they want to participate, but Zippler said there are several reasons people find themselves sitting in the cold to observe the birds. "They just like to help gather information for science, so they know what species are where at what time, about the same time every year," he said. Data collected include what species are going down in what numbers, what species are going up, how many different species are present and how many individual birds are present. Participators also record how many miles and hours are walked and driven and how much effort was done to collect the information over the total of a two-week period. Some people do feeder watches, as well. "They will just stay at their house and watch the feeder," Zippler said. "What they record is the highest number of birds seen at one time. If they look out and see two birds one minute but later see four birds, they will write four as their total bird count of that kind," he said. Participation in the bird count costs $5, and that provides for a magazine that gives an overview of what happened the year one participated, explained Zippler. For more information on participating in the Christmas Bird Count, contact Zippler at 642-2264. Contact Ashleey Williamson at awilliamson@aikenstandard.com.