Christmas Bird Count

Organization Sponsor: Audubon

Organization Partner: Bird Studies Canada


Program Description

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.

Go to the web site to find a circle count near you.

Program Approximate Cost: 


Funding Sources: 

Bird Studies Canada and National Audubon Society.

Strategies For Sustainability: 

The mission of Bird Studies Canada is to advance the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats, in Canada and elsewhere, through studies that engage the skills, enthusiasm, and support of its members, volunteers, and the interested public.

Impact Of Program: 

The idea of the Christmas Bird Count has evolved into one of the largest organized birding events in the world, and a holiday tradition during the Christmas season for over 50,000 birders each year. This activity has been passed on from generation to generation and a part of many families activity at Christmas time.

The Christmas Bird Count, as it is now called, is conducted in over 2000 localities across Canada, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. These bird observations, collected during one-day field counts within defined circular areas, have been amassed into a huge database that reflects the distribution and numbers of winter birds over time.

Evaluation Tools: 

Online input of data collected from communities across North America.

Key Elements Towards Success: 

Bird Studies Canada is a not-for-profit organization built on the enthusiastic contributions of thousands of volunteer Citizen Scientists. Data from Bird Studies Canada's volunteer surveys and targeted research projects are used to identify significant population changes and help direct conservation planning.

Challenges To Meet Them: 

As this activity takes place during winter any storms or difficult weather might effect the participation of individuals. The time period has expanded to a 3 week period.

Length and Stage of Project: 

This program began in 1900 by American ornithologist Frank Chapman.

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