Join the Christmas Bird Count

Thousands of volunteers across North America take part in the Christmas Bird Count every year to help assess the health of winter bird populations.
By Megan Phelps
December 2006/January 2007
Add to My MSN

Join the winter bird watchers and help with the Christmas bird count.
Photo by Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery
Slideshow


Content Tools

Related Content

Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Participate in Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count to help scientists study winter bird populations: www....

Speak Up for the Conservation of U.S. National Forests

The U.S. Forest Service began hosting roundtable discussions on March 29 (continuing until May 12) t...

Is There Anything I Can Put in a Birdbath to Keep It From Freezing?

Yes, you can keep your birdbath from freezing during the winter. Here's how.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is Back

Here's what you need to know to participate in the Audubon Society's annual bird count. It's a fun a...

This winter, more than 50,000 volunteers across North America will work together to identify and count wild birds as part of the Christmas Bird Count. This annual event, coordinated by the National Audubon Society, combines the totals collected by local bird watchers to produce a yearly snapshot of winter bird populations.

The data is used by biologists to study variations in bird populations as well as the underlying environmental reasons behind those changes. While some bird species are declining, other populations are growing and expanding their ranges. For example, mourning doves are expanding their range north into the northern United States and Canada. One of several factors behind that change may be increasingly warm winter temperatures.

Geoff LeBaron, director of the Christmas Bird Count, says that last year more than 2,000 local field parties took part in the count. The count is a long tradition—it began more than 100 years ago—but LeBaron says it’s only been within the past 20 years that the scientific community has embraced it as a rich source of data and developed new methods for analyzing the records.

“It basically has become the best tool for looking at how birds are doing in the early winter period,” LeBaron says. “Since the methodology is standardized, we’re able to actually see what kind of trends there are with the birds we’re counting.”

LeBaron says that for many people, local bird watching is the catalyst that gets them involved with national conservation issues. Often, local forests or wetlands need to be protected, and for migratory birds, habitat has to be protected everywhere along their routes.

The Christmas Bird Count is conducted from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 every winter, and is open to both amateur birdwatchers and trained ornithologists. Organized groups spend a day counting birds in assigned, 15-mile-diameter circles. Inexperienced observers are paired with veteran birders to help keep the count accurate.

John Stuart has been participating in the Christmas Bird Count for 30 years. He lives in Washington state, about an hour from the Canadian border, and says that each year the count in his area records 65 to 75 species.

“The counts are done in a scientific manner, but it’s just a whole lot of fun,” Stuart says. “You get a carload of people, and you go out and drink your coffee and count birds all day. It’s a great social event.”

Indeed, birding is often just an excuse to get out and enjoy nature. “It’s a good old spiritual connection to the world, one that’s sometimes hard to find when you’re walking on carpet,” Stuart says. He says he doesn’t see birding as a hobby at all: “It’s just part of living and knowing what’s going on around you.”


Start Counting Birds!

Check out the resources below for bird photos and bird watching tips, as well as more information on the Christmas Bird Count and other opportunities to watch and count birds.

Christmas Bird Count
Find and contact your local Audubon chapter to get more information on nearby counts.

Great Backyard Bird Count
Open to birders of all experience levels.

Project Feederwatch
Count birds at home or as a classroom project.

eBird
Year-round Resources for managing data for experienced birders.


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.