Christmas Bird Count
Thank you for your dedicated participation in Audubon’s Christmas Bird Counts (CBC). As a CBC Leader and a citizen scientist, your contribution to conservation is deeply appreciated and contributes to the longest running wildlife census.
The CBC began in 1900 and continues today due to dedicated volunteers like you. The CBC is an essential part of Audubon’s mission to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats.
As you know, the data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists, and other interested individuals to study the long term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past. (How the Christmas Bird Count Helps Protect Species and Their Habitat pdf)
Audubon is using CBC data to show trends in bird migration patterns pointing to impacts of climate change in the continental U.S.
Christmas Bird Count FAQs
1. How is the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) conducted?
Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile (24-km) diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally—all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. If observers live within a CBC circle, they may arrange in advance to count the birds at their feeders and submit those data to their compiler. All individual CBC’s are conducted in the period from December 14 to January 5 (inclusive dates) each season, and each count is conducted in one calendar day.
2. Will I be doing this by myself? Do I have to be an experienced birder?
CBC participants are organized into groups—or field parties—by the organizer or Compiler of each Count. Each field party covers a specific area of the 15-mile diameter circle on a specific route. And anyone is welcome to participate, since Compilers arrange field parties so that inexperienced observers are always out with seasoned CBC veterans.
3. Do I have to join a field party, or can I count the birds at my feeder?
As long as you live within a designated CBC circle, you are welcome to count the birds at your feeder. All you’ll need to do is contact your local Compiler so that you may report your results on the Count Day. Please do so on the CBC Getting Involved page, or talk to a CBC leader in your area to find out how you can get involved
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snap-shot of where the birds are across the continent.