The Christmas Bird Count is conducted from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 every year. 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.
The totals collected by volunteers provide a snapshot of winter bird populations. Biologists use the data to study variations in bird populations as well as the underlying environmental reasons behind those changes. For example, biologists have discovered that mourning doves are expanding their range north into the United States and Canada. One of several factors behind that change may be increasingly warm winter temperatures.
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.'
To get involved this winter, contact your local Audubon chapter.
More Birdwatching Resources
Great Backyard Bird Count
Feb. 16 to 19, 2007
Open to birders of all experience levels.
November to April
Count birds at home or as a classroom project.
Resources for managing data for experienced birders.
Megan E. Phelps is a freelance writer based in Kansas. She enjoys reading and writing about all things related to sustainable living including homesteading skills, green building and renewable energy. You can find her on Google+.