From December 14 to January 5, nature enthusiasts will rise before dawn to join in the 120-year old tradition of the longest-running citizen science survey—the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count.
This year, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count will mobilize over 72,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,500 locations across the Western Hemisphere.
Please be aware the COVID-19 pandemic will affect CBC participation. Pending local restrictions, many counts will be done under the COVID-19 guidelines sent to compilers, while others may be cancelled.
The Audubon Christmas Bird Count utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone. The tradition of counting birds combined with modern technology and mapping is enabling researchers to make discoveries that were not possible in earlier decades.
Birders of all ages are welcome to contribute to the nationwide citizen science project, which provides ornithologists with a crucial snapshot of native bird populations during the winter months. Each individual count is performed in a count circle with a diameter of 15 miles. In most count circles, some people watch feeders instead of following routes.
Those interested in participating this season can visit the map link for current information. To find a count location, use the map to identify locations and coordinators in your state. You can also see when more circles are added as they are approved.
There is a specific methodology to the CBC, and all participants need to make arrangements to participate in advance with the circle compiler within an established circle, but anyone can participate.
Each count takes place in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle, and is organized by a count compiler. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile 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.
Beginning birders will be able to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher.
Those whose home is within the boundaries of a CBC circle, you can stay at home and report the birds that visit their feeder on count day as long by making a prior arrangement with the count compiler.
To find the CBC compiler in your area, check out the link and map. Green and yellow circles are open for new participants, and red circles are full. Because online registration is not available, contact the link to the compilers by email using the information from the pop-ups on the map.
During the count, birders can use the live CBC Live Tracker to see photos posted from other counters or from those who are scouting for or participating in the Christmas Bird Count.
With thousands of people across the hemisphere doing the same during the count period, it gives scientists and counters a snapshot of how people experience the CBC from Ecuador to the Arctic, and from Guam to Bermuda.
To learn how tens of thousands of volunteers in Audubon's Christmas Bird Count, The Great Backyard Bird Count, Climate Watch, and Hummingbirds at Home make a difference for birds, click here.