It’s officially December and among many other Christmas-themed activities, it is an exciting time in the birding world. Each December, countless birders take part in local Christmas bird counts to help with research, education and conservation of our feathered friends.
This year marks the 116th anniversary of this volunteer-driven program aimed at getting folks out into the field and gaining another level of education and admiration for local birds and wildlife.
History of the Christmas Bird Count
Relying on the hard work of volunteers and support of donors, the Christmas Bird Count is a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society. The program started over 100 years ago and allows avid birders the opportunity to join local counts in which their sightings will eventually be reported and mapped by the National Audubon Society.
How to Participate
As we stated above, you must join a local count, as individual accounts are not allowed. The reason behind this being, each Christmas Bird Count is a census and each circle measured about 15 miles in diameter. As you can imagine, that is a lot of ground to cover as an individual. To find a local count in your area, consult the Audubon’s map of expected circles for this year’s count.
When do Counts Take Place
December 14th is the first day of counts, but you local count can take place between December 14th and January 5, 2015. By browsing the map, you will find out which dates each count is conducted and you may even be able to participate in multiple counts, depending on your area. Once established, you will then follow specified routes through your designated circle, counting all birds seen or heard throughout the day. This program allows even beginning birds a unique opportunity to get out in the field with a group of experienced bird watchers and learn more about local species in their area.