Birders are busy in late December, but not hunting for deals on Christmas gifts like so many other folks. They are out counting every bird that hops, swims or flies into view. For more than 100 years, individual bird lovers, families, students and scientists have volunteered their time between December 14 and January 5 to participate in the longest-running wildlife census. The Christmas Bird Count began on Christmas Day 1900. Prior to that, a Christmas tradition among hunters had been to organize themselves into teams and hold competitions to see who could shoot and kill the most birds. Ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed a new holiday tradition, a “Christmas Bird Census.” Participants in the census would count birds rather than kill them.
The data collected during the Christmas Bird Counts gives the Audubon Society and other environmental organizations information about the long-term health of bird populations across North America. This knowledge, combined with information from other surveys, has helped scientists identify changes in bird populations over the past 100 years. The information helps scientists make conservation plans to protect birds and their habitats, and also helps identify environmental issues and their implications for life on the planet.
To find out more about volunteering for the Christmas Bird Count click on the link below or contact your local Audubon. Make counting birds a Christmas Tradition for your family.