It's time for the Audubon Society's 115th Annual Christmas Bird Count, a bird census that occurs early every winter in the United States and Canada. Each year, tens of thousands of amateur and professional bird watchers volunteer from December 14 to January 15, collecting important data about bird populations. Volunteers are assigned a 15-mile diameter circle and instructed to count each bird they hear or see throughout the day. The data is used to assess bird health and provide a guide for future conservation action.
The Christmas Bird Count dates back to 1900. Ornithologist Frank Chapman, an officer in the early years of the Audubon Society, was frustrated with a holiday tradition called the "Side Hunt"- a hunting competition that encouraged participants to kill as many birds as possible. Chapman was frustrated by the declining bird populations. When he suggested a Christmas Bird Census as an alternative, 27 dedicated birders from Canada to California quickly tallied 90 different species of birds.
Data from the annual Christmas Bird Counts have made it possible for researchers and conservation biologists to study bird populations across North America for over 100 years. For example, data in the 1980's documented the American Black Duck's declining wintering population. As a result, measures were enacted to protect these birds from hunters. Researchers have also identified environmental issues based on local trends in bird populations.
Although there is no fee to participate in the Christmas Bird Count, donations are appreciated. Each fall the Audubon Society posts information about local circles on their website under the Get Involved tab. As long as participants live within a designated circle, they can even count birds at their own feeders. The Audubon Society just asks for participants to contact their local Compiler in advance.
Dress the Yard offers quality bird-feeders and birdhouses created by Amish craftsman and other quality sources. If you love birds, then you will love our collections. Celebrate birds this holiday season with the Annual Christmas Bird Count, and maybe share a holiday gift with the birds in your life in the form of a beautiful new bird house!