Calling all birders! Would you like to be a part of a long-standing tradition, a real census? The annual National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count (CBC) takes place Dec. 14-Jan. 5. During this time, over a 24-hour period, thousands of citizen scientists throughout the U.S., Canada, and many countries in the Western Hemisphere take to the woods, fields, and their own backyards to count birds. My local count always falls on a Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s. This year it takes place on Jan. 1, and I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t missed a Christmas Bird Count in many years. It’s a great way to get out and see which species overwinter in my part of the world.
The CBC welcomes all levels of birders to volunteer for their local count. You’ll need to check the Audubon Society website to find the count area near you. Because it is a real census, your local compiler will assign you and your group a specific area to cover. Each individual count is one calendar day, covering 15 square mile circles. You’ll be following one of the specified routes through the circle. Audubon Society CBC’s only cost $5.00 to participate, and your participation really makes a difference.
Over the years, the results of these CBC counts have helped researchers understand changes and shifts in bird populations, and monitor the long-term health and viability of individual species. Click here to learn more about how CBC data have been used.
Thanks to the Harmony, Florida CBC participants (pictured) who shared this about their count day: "Harmony is a community predicated on living intelligently with nature, with 7000 acres of Florida that will never be developed. We had great weather, great friends, neighbors, and visitors from the local Audubon Society. There were hundreds of American Robins and Yellow-Rumped Warblers, and lots of lovely Pine Warblers. We saw numerous alligators and tons of butterflies on the butterfly trail. At the end of the count, our Conservation Director took us out to the orange groves and we picked oranges, tangerines and lemons in the rain that hit us at the end of the day. With a rainbow overhead, and we saw a giant kettle of about 3500 Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures, from horizon to horizon."
Start making plans now to be part of one of the world’s oldest and most influential Citizen Science programs –Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count. It has been a much-loved tradition in my family. Perhaps it will become a tradition for yours, too.
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.