Beginning on December 14th 2014 and running through January 5th 2015 the Audubon’s Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is the longest running citizen science survey in the world. Thousands of volunteers across the country will contribute critical data on winter bird population trends. This data is entered into the database and is vital to the Audubon’s mission of cataloguing and conserving bird species around the world. Students, families, birders and scientists armed with binoculars, field guides and checklists will join in the survey, going out into sometimes cold and snowy conditions, often before dawn. For over 100 years motivated citizen scientists have left the comfort of their warm, holiday ensconced homes to brave the weather in order to help make this huge contribution to conservation.
The Audubon Society and other organizations use the data collected during the annual Christmas Bird Count to assess the health and habits of bird populations and develop actionable plans for conservation. Feeder-watchers, data compilers, regional editors and field observers all take part in the CBC for the love of birds and a passion to preserve and restore the environment to maintain habitat. There also may be an underlying spirit of friendly competition among contributors. Annual results are compiled and published in American Birds, which is up to date as of the 112th edition. This publication contains regional summaries of data collected from all counts conducted and feature articles on topics unique to the CBC.
Anyone can participate in the count, but you must sign up ahead of time with a circle compiler. Each count takes place within a 15 mile diameter wide circle and is organized by a circle compiler. To find a circle near you and contact the circle compiler visit the interactive mapping tool at:http://audubon.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Viewer/index.html?appid=87992bb4fea643f6b044488f48528eae. As a beginner birder you will need to be in a group with at least 1 experienced surveyor. If your home is within the boundaries of a CBC circle you can stay home and contribute to the count as a feeder-watcher, as long as prior arrangements have been made and approved with your circle compiler.
The Christmas Bird Count is 100% funded through donations. Funding is used to support contributors’ day-to-day activities, technological needs, database maintenance and make historical data accessible to volunteers and the public. The data collected by citizen scientist contributors over the past century have become 1 of only 2 large pools of data informing ornithologists and conservation biologists on the current state of American bird populations. Sign up here: http://netapp.audubon.org/cbc/public/search.aspx, to particpate in this year’s Christmas Bird Count.