Last winter I wrote about the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count (CBC), which is the world’s longest running volunteer wildlife survey. Now in its 111th year, this winter’s effort promises to be both enjoyable and of vital importance to birds throughout the Western Hemisphere. Today I’d like to highlight last year’s amazing successes, and once again remind all how easy it is to participate.
A Record-Breaking Bird Count
Last year’s CBC ran from December 14, 2009 to January 5, 2010, and surpassed all previous ones on every level. The turnout was incredible… 60,753 people counted nearly 56 million individual birds representing an astounding 2,319 species. The species count shattered the previous year’s record by 200 species.
Observations were made in all 50 states, all Canadian provinces, Guam, Bermuda, Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Mariana and Virgin Islands. Spearheaded by birders in Columbia, several Latin American countries joined in as well.
The CBC was started by legendary bird man Frank Chapman, shortly after he began his stellar career at the American Museum of Natural History in 1888.
Information on the scale generated by CBC volunteers is simply unattainable by other methods, and has provided fodder for countless articles, studies and conservation programs. In recent years, CBC data has played a leading role in the formulation of the US Department of the Interior’s annual State of Birds Report.
Big City Birding
I’ve always enjoyed the CBC – especially since most of New York City’s large natural areas are magnets for winter birds. Counts on the grounds of the Bronx Zoo, where nearly 300 species have been sighted, have given me views of such spectacular visitors as Long-Eared Owls and Peregrine Falcons…and a quite unexpected Coyote! Please check out the article below to see what’s in store, and to learn how to join up.
Year-round Bird Counts
Those who cannot participate in the CBC can assist ornithologists in studying and conserving birds by supplying observations to efforts such as The Great Backyard Bird Count and Project Feeder-Watch (please see article below). These run throughout the year and are no-pressure, casual programs – any and all observations, however sporadic, are welcome and put to good use.
Current Bird Count Information from the National Audubon Society.