With the help of thousands of volunteers, the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world-the Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count-takes place Dec. 14 through Jan. 5.
American Robin by Jonathan Oleyar, Courtesy National Audubon Society
Volunteers throughout North America will brave winter weather to add a new layer to 111 years of data on birds.
Scientist rely on the trend data of Audubon's CBC to better understand how birds and the environment are faring throughout North America, and what needs to be done to protect them. Data from Audubon's signature Citizen Science program are at the heart of numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies.
Christmas Bird Count data informs the U.S. State of the Birds Report each spring. Find the current report here.
The Audubon Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore which evolved into Audubon magazine, suggested that people hunt birds to count them. Now volunteers in the Binocular Brigades brave winter's chill, ice and snow to record changes in resident populations before spring migrants return.
Northern Cardinal by Jerry Acton, Courtesy National Audubon Society
Audubon Christmas Bird Count data not only helps identify birds in need of conservation action, it reveals success stories. The Christmas Bird Count helped document the comeback of the previously endangered Bald Eagle, and significant increases in waterfowl populations, both the result of conservation efforts.
"Everyone who takes part in the Christmas Bird Count plays a critical role in helping us focus attention and conservation where it is most needed," said Dr. Greg Butcher, Audubon director of Bird Conservation.
The analysis of Common Birds in Decline, the foundation for Audubon's WatchList, identifies species in dire need of conservation help. Read more about it at http://birds.audubon.org/common-birds-decline.
"The Christmas Bird Count is all about the power of Citizen Science," says Geoff LeBaron, Bird Count Director. "Our theme is I Count, because the work of thousands of volunteers, extending over a century, really adds up."
Tufted Titmouse by Judy Howle, Courtesy National Audubon Society
Accuracy is assured by having new participants join an established group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle or can arrange in advance to count the birds at home feeders inside the circle and submit the results to a designated compiler.
All individual Christmas Bird Counts are conducted Dec. 14 through Jan. 5 each season, with each individual count occupying a single calendar day.
To learn how to identify birds, become a bird watcher or locate an Audubon Center near you, see the FAQs at http://birds.audubon.org/faq/cbc.