Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Bird Count Tomorrow

Each year, right around Christmas-time, small groups of hearty souls set their alarm clocks for a pre-dawn awakening, don winter apparel, and set off in cars and on foot to participate in the Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The CBC is one of the most successful, and longest-running citizen science monitoring programs ever. Ohio has been involved with the CBC since its inception in 1900.

A little history (from Ohio Audubon Society's website):

The CBC was first instituted by Frank M. Chapman, an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and an officer in the relatively new Audubon Society. At the turn of the century the depletion of bird populations through unregulated recreational hunting, and over-harvesting for the fashion industry of the time were major concerns for many people throughout the U.S. In an attempt to create greater awareness for the plight of bird populations, and develop an alternative activity to hunting Chapman created the Christmas Bird Count. Christmas was chosen for Chapman’s Bird Count because that date had traditionally been used for a hunting-related activity where hunters split up into different competitive teams and went out into the field to shoot as many birds as they possibly could. The winning team was the one that had shot the most birds.

The first Christmas Bird Count had 27 volunteer participants who counted birds in 25 distinct count circles across 13 different states and two Canadian provinces. They collectively counted 18,500 individual birds and 90 total species. Today there are nearly 50,000 volunteer CBC observers throughout the world, including groups that participate right here in Adams County.

To get involved in a Christmas Bird Count near you, click here.

Photo by Jeff Ratliff