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Christmas Bird Counts

Posted on Nov 21, 2014

It is hard to believe that Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) are only a few weeks away! For those of you that may not know what a CBC is our friends at the National Audubon Society, who coordinate the efforts, explain:

From December 14 through January 5 tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas take part in an adventure that has become a family tradition among generations. Families and students, birders and scientists, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists go out on an annual mission – often before dawn. For over one hundred years, the desire to both make a difference and to experience the beauty of nature has driven dedicated people to leave the comfort of a warm house during the Holiday season.

Each of the citizen scientists who annually braves snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count makes an enormous contribution to conservation. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations – and to help guide conservation action.

From feeder-watchers and field observers to count compilers and regional editors, everyone who takes part in the Christmas Bird Count does it for love of birds and the excitement of friendly competition — and with the knowledge that their efforts are making a difference for science and bird conservation.

We encourage all birders who are local to us at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, New York, to take part in the Jamestown CBC on Sunday, December 14. The nearby Warren, Pennsylvania CBC takes place on Sunday, December 21, and is another to sign up for! Last year I participated in both counts, seeing and hearing a lot of lovely species despite constant lake effect snow and difficult weather conditions.

Some of the cool finds included this Rough-legged Hawk…

Rough-legged Hawk CBC KJHW 12-15-13

As well as this Snowy Owl…

Snowy Owl KJHW 12-15-13

We stand a good chance to find Snowy Owls once again this year as well as many other uncommon birds! CBCs have a reputation for discovering rarities because it brings so many people together covering areas that are not normally birded, especially in the late autumn or winter. Grab your Peterson Field Guide and please consider joining this legendary citizen science effort wherever you live, especially if you have children to bring along.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator