11 Reasons the Christmas Bird Count Rocks

Video still from Christmas Bird Count told by Chan Robbins

11 Reasons the Christmas Bird Count Rocks

The world’s longest-running citizen science project is a boon for bird conservation.

By Simone M. Scully
Published: 12/12/2013

From the Arctic Circle to the mountain valleys of the Andes, tens of thousands of people are gearing up to take part in the world’s longest-running citizen science project: the Christmas Bird Count. Birders of all levels will brave the elements to count birds during a three-week period, from December 14 through January 5. Want to take part? Registration is free and participants can easily sign up online.

In the meantime, check out this delightful video about one of the count's most dedicated volunteers, and take a gander at these fun and fascinating facts about the CBC.

Talk about commitment. Chan Robbins has participated in the annual CBC since 1934. Yes, 1934.

1900

On Christmas day of this year, Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore (which later evolved into Audubon magazine), founded the CBC as an alternative to that bloodier tradition of “side hunts” on the day, in which individuals competed in teams to shoot the most birds.

27

The number of participants at the 1900 Christmas day count.

71,531

Number of participants in the 113th CBC count in 2012. More are expected this year. 

25

Number of different locations CBC participants counted in the first year of the event.

2,360

Number of counts in 2012, with participants in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Bermuda, and the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands.  

640

Total number of species counted during the 113th Christmas Bird Count. 

15

Number of years in a row that the count in Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh, Texas, has identified the greatest number of avian species.

232

Number of species counted in Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh during the 2012 CBC.

35

Average miles shift to the north of nearly 60 percent of the 305 bird species found in North America in winter, analysis of CBC data shows, indicating the effect of climate change on birds.

68

Percent of population decline of common birds, on average, including the northern bobwhite, evening grosbeak, and northern pintail duck since 1967. 

6

Average percentage increase annually in sightings of bald eagles in CBC counts from 1967 to 2006, showing the incredible comeback of one of our most iconic birds.

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Simone M. Scully

Simone M. Scully is a reporter at Audubon Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @ScullySimone

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine