Northern Cardinal and Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Northern Cardinal and Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Northern Cardinal and Red-Bellied Woodpecker Photo: Joan Tisdale / Great Backyard Bird Count
Northern Cardinal and Red-Bellied Woodpecker Photo: Joan Tisdale / Great Backyard Bird Count

News

Join the Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Find your circle. Everyone can participate! The 120th Christmas Bird Count will take place from December 14 through January 5.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is one of the longest-running wildlife censuses in the world. Each individual count takes place in a 15-mile-wide circle and is led by a compiler responsible for organizing volunteers and submitting observations to Audubon. Within each circle, participants tally all birds seen or heard that day—not just the species but total numbers to provide a clear idea of the health of that particular population.

Join Us!

Counts are open to birders of all skill levels and Audubon’s free Bird Guide app makes it even easier to learn more. There is no fee to participate. Beginning birders are welcome. You will be birding as part of a group that includes experienced birdwatchers. Feeder counts (done indoors) are even an option if your feeder falls within the boundaries of a Christmas Bird Count circle. Take a look at the map, then contact your count compiler prior to the count to find the best birding option. If you're travelling this winter you can also explore options for joining the Audubon Christmas Bird Count elsewhere.

Click here for the list of all of the Vermont dates and folks to contact.

Click here to find the full Audubon Christmas Bird Count interactive map.

History of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count

A Little History

Prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas "Side Hunt." They would choose sides and go afield with their guns—whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.

Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the then-nascent Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition—a "Christmas Bird Census" that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.

So began the Christmas Bird Count. Thanks to the inspiration of Chapman and the enthusiasm of 27 dedicated birders, 25 Christmas Bird Counts were held that day. The locations ranged from Toronto, Ontario to Pacific Grove, California with most counts in or near the population centers of northeastern North America. Those original 27 Christmas Bird Counters tallied around 90 species on all the counts combined. 

Learn more about the history of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. 

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes Photo: Lynne Kassey / Audubon Photography Awards

Wow! That's a big count!

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count mobilizes more than 79,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,500 locations across the Western Hemisphere, from above the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego. The CBC harnesses the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that professional scientists could never accomplish alone. Every local count is part of this vast volunteer network and continues a tradition that stretches back 120 years.

Last year, the 119th Christmas Bird Count included a record-setting 2615 count circles, with 1975 counts in the United States, 460 in Canada and 180 in Latin America, the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Pacific Islands. This was the ninth-straight year of record-breaking counts. In total, 79,425 observers out in the field and watching feeders tallied up over 48 million birds representing more than 2600 species different species—more than one-quarter of the world’s known avifauna. Approximately 5 percent of the North American landmass was surveyed by the Christmas Bird Count. 

To sign up for a Christmas Bird Count and ensure your bird count data make it into the official Audubon database, please find the circle nearest you and register with your local Christmas Bird Count compiler. All Christmas Bird Count data must be submitted through the official compiler to be added to the long-running census.

Click here for the list of all of the Vermont dates and folks to contact.

Click here to find the full Audubon Christmas Bird Count interactive map.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a community science project organized by the National Audubon Society. For more information visit www.christmasbirdcount.org.

Related

History of the Christmas Bird Count
Get Involved

History of the Christmas Bird Count

How the count started, and how the data is used today.

Read more

Audubon Invites You to Celebrate 120 Years of the Annual Christmas Bird Count
Get Involved

Audubon Invites You to Celebrate 120 Years of the Annual Christmas Bird Count

Between December 14 and January 5, participants will join the world’s longest-running wildlife census, which contributes invaluable data to bird population research.

Read more

How you can help, right now