The bird census begins
The Audubon Society will hold its annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) December 14 through January 5, gathering data from across North America on bird species to compile a census on our winged friends.
Any bird watchers interested in participating must register in advance and will be set up to trek to a nearby count circle, which is a 15-mile-wide in diameter area. For one day, volunteers follow specified routes through the circle, counting every bird they see and hear. Local groups, including the Sullivan County Audubon Society and the Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon Society, have been participating in the bird count for years. Beginner birders are required to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. If your home is within the boundaries of a circle—likely in our area—you can stay at home and report the birds that visit your backyard, as long as you’ve run it by an official compiler.
This is the 119th iteration of the bird count. Last year’s season tallied an all-time high participation rate, with nearly 77,000 participants recording roughly one quarter of all species of birds in the world. The birders tallied 59,242,067 individual birds of more than 2,600 species as well as 426 additional forms and hybrids.
“Many people in several regions won’t remember the 188th CBC season for any of the aforementioned reasons,” the Audubon’s website reads, “but instead because they were able to participate at all.” Despite massive wildfires in California and hurricanes in the Gulf and Caribbean Islands, almost all of the circles in those areas were still covered by participants. “The immediate coverage of affected areas, and continued monitoring in those areas for seasons to come, will be critical as we track the recovery of both natural processes and human lives,” according to the Audubon Society.
The bird count was created as conservation came of age, encouraging outdoors-people to get out in nature and count birds, rather than hunt them. Today, the findings of the world’s largest bird census allows Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and others to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. For more information on the Christmas Bird Count, and to sign up to participate, visit the Audubon Society’s website, audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count.