One of the traditions that we have come to enjoy at this time of the year involves outdoor walking or snowshoeing and driving, while participating in a North American event to count birds. This will be the 110th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The Audubon CBC website describes this unique event in the following manner:
“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.”
Ken Kingdon, at Riding Mountain National Park, coordinates the count. He has sent out his annual note to traditional “counters” and invited others to participate. If anyone is interested, please contact Ken Kingdon at Riding Mountain National Park. The park is also providing a pre-bird count orientation session for new birders. You can contact Jennifer Gustafson, park interpreter. She just sent out a note this morning..”
“Hello Everyone,……For all of you who are not regular birders or want a refresher on the birds we will be seeing take part in our pre-count orientation session. The Christmas Bird Count Orientation Session will be held at Friends of Riding Mountain Learning Centre before we head out at 9:00 AM. Feel free to join us. Call me at 848-7226 for more information. We would love to get as many people out as possible.” – Jen
We spend most of the day walking, hiking, driving, snowshoeing and/or skiing and counting birds by hearing their calls or seeing them.
This citizen science contributes to one of the most important annual snapshots of bird populations and provides important trend information about bird populations in North America. Ken Kingdon provides a good overview about the Christmas Bird Count in this short video after we had finished last year’s count.
The day is finished off with a great potluck supper and a collaborative addition of all counted species. A great way to celebrate the spirit of family, a celebration of wild nature, and a reminder to cherish this planet in every action we take.