Saturday, December 01, 2007

Christmas Bird Counts

Christmas Bird Count season is coming up quickly. These counts began as bird-friendly alternatives to the side hunts that would accompany holidays in the late nineteenth century. From small beginnings, they grew in popularity once binoculars made it possible to identify most birds without killing them. Today, the counts provide data for numerous bird studies. Among other things, CBCs provide part of the statistical basis for the Audubon Watchlist.

Unlike continent-wide events like the Great Backyard Bird Count, CBCs are organized locally. Each local count must cover a 15-mile diameter circle and be conducted within a single day. Teams of birders cover different parts of that, count all the bird species and individuals, and then report results to the count compiler.

If you would like to get involved, contact the compiler of a local count to find out where help is needed. Most count sectors are done by the same people from one year to the next, but there are always openings for more birders.

Here are complete lists of CBCs for New Jersey and Maryland/DC.

As usual, I will be helping with the Raritan Estuary CBC, which includes various habitats along the Raritan River corridor.