This Year’s Christmas Bird Count is About to Begin

Thousands of bird-loving volunteers are gearing up for this year’s 119th annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), which is set to begin on December 14 and runs through January 5.

Every year the National Audubon Society organizes this event, where participants of all skill levels gather data on birds during what is now the longest-running wildlife census in the world.

“The Christmas Bird Count is a tradition that everyone can participate in,” said Geoff LeBaron, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count Director. “Adding observations to more than a century of data helps scientists and conservationists discover trends that make our work more impactful. Participating in the Christmas Bird Count is a fun tradition for anyone and everyone.”

As the National Audubon Society explains, each count takes place in a 15-mile-wide circle, where participants count all the birds they see or hear on the day they’re out.

The data that’s gathered is then used to see how populations are doing, and how they’re changing over time. It’s also used in studies, and to determine where conservation efforts are needed most.

It also helps in other ways, for example by helping scientists see what happens following natural disasters, like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria that hit last year, along with other events like the wildfires in California, giving them a clearer vision of how both habitats and birds recover.

Last year was a record-setting one with 76,987 participants out in the field who counted 59,242, 067 birds from 2,673 species in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Pacific Islands.

After those disasters hit last year, birders were still out counting. As Audubon wrote, “Counters in California slogged through burned habitats searching for birds; birders in Texas put down their chain saws and shovels and went out and counted birds; participants in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands put their recovery efforts on hold (even in the face of no electricity) and searched the wind-stripped forests in the hopes of finding some of their avian neighbors.”

Those participants got a Mistle Thrush added to the database, after it was spotted in North America for the first time and helped confirm continued declines in other species, including the Northern Bobwhite, American Kestrels and the Loggerhead Shrike who are all believed to be disappearing because of habitat loss and a susceptibility to the use of pesticides.

Hopefully this year’s count will break another record and help scientists continue to work towards protecting and conserving bird species in need.

For more on how to participate, check out the Christmas Bird Count. If you can’t help out with the count, you can still show your love for birds by sharing on social media this December for the Year of the Bird campaign, which is organized by the National Audubon Society and other organizations, or check out the Great Backyard Bird Count, which starts in February.

Photo credit: Getty Images

59 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y15 days ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y15 days ago

thanks

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John J
John J15 days ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J15 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Sherri S
Sherri Sabout a month ago

Thank you to everyone involved in this yearly count.

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heather g
heather gabout a month ago

Good work - especially in the cold climates....

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Shae Lee
Shae Labout a month ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Lesa D
Past Member about a month ago

thank you Alicia...

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Daniel N
Daniel Nabout a month ago

thank you

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Latoya B
Latoya Brookinsabout a month ago

Christmas bird count. So cute.

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