What is the Christmas Bird Count?
As Christmas draws ever nearer, I linger over photographs of snow and recall living in Nebraska and participating in the Christmas Bird Count there. The Christmas Bird Count is just what it sounds like–an annual event in which volunteer bird watchers identify and count birds in their local areas. The counting follows a strict protocol and has been done for over 100 years, yielding an accurate bird census that gives ornithologists critical data on species abundance over time.
The whole thing is administered by the National Audubon Society, with local organizers responsible for the count within their assigned area. The specific day of the count is determined locally, but must occur between December 14thand January 5th.
All over the Western hemisphere, the Christmas Bird Count sees volunteers spending all or part of the designated day tramping around outdoors, identifying and counting birds. Every year the information gathered is compiled, turned in to the National Audubon Society and added to a database containing over a century’s worth of avian census records.
Participating in the Christmas Bird Count
To participate in the Christmas bird count is a privilege that I enjoyed when I lived “up North”. There was something vastly satisfying about seeing for myself the diversity of wildlife that persevered in eastern Nebraska despite temperatures below freezing and the lack of abundant food that characterized the winter months.
My experience was in Nebraska, but yours could easily be close to wherever you live. Find out more at the National Audubon Society webpage. You will see that the number of areas surveyed is nothing short of staggering. North America has the greatest density of census “circles”, but there are are also circles in Central and South America.
Take a closer look at the map of 2018-2019 sites here. (The Audubon map is interactive. If you click on a circle, you will see the local organizer’s name and contact information.)
Whether you watch birds or photograph clouds, do make time this season to get outdoors and enjoy the wonders of nature in the winter, wherever you live.
Until next time,