Feature Photo: Kersti Nebelsiek via Wikimedia Commons

If you are looking for a fun and exciting way to get outside and take part in birding studies over the holiday season, taking part in a local Christmas Bird Count is a great way to get outdoors and discover some of your favorite birds.

Dating back to 1900, this 115-year tradition is now conducted in over 2000 locations across North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean. With help from thousands of birders, these observations have been added to an international database illustrating the distribution and numbers of winter birds from year to year.

This observational activity began around the turn of the 20th century as conservation was in its infancy as more and more bird enthusiasts and scientists began to be concerned about declining numbers of bird populations in their areas. An early officer in the Audubon Society, Frank Chapman, then proposed a new holiday tradition in which groups of participants (27 members at the time) began a “Christmas Bird Census” and has now blossomed into the annual Christmas Bird Counts.


Today the Christmas Bird Counts take place exclusively between December 14th and January 5th of each year, where many families have adopted this annual activity as a family tradition now being passed down through generations.

Whether participants partake in the count for the entire period or only a day or two, each member contributes heavily to the conservation of our feathered friends. The Audubon Society and a number of organizations use the data collected to aid them in assessing the strength of certain species as well as furthering the ongoing importance of conservation.

If you, your family or friends are interested in taking part in a local Christmas Bird Count, Bird Studies Canada has an interactive map that can help you find a count closest to you. Locate the closest count here.

The Christmas Bird Counts were formerly funded by member fees, but now operate strictly on donations. If you would like to donate and be an integral part of bird studies, research and conservation you can do so via the Audubon website’s donation page or through Bird Studies Canada’s donation page.


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