Photo courtesy of Terrence Thompson
The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is the nation’s longest-running citizen science project that fuels Audubon science year-round.
How did it start? 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, but 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.
When is it? From December 14 through January 5 each year, tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas brave snow, wind, or rain, and take part in the effort. Audubon and other organizations use the data collected in this long-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations and to help guide conservation action.
What is Citizen Science? You are the scientist, and the data that you collect allows Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across the Americas. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and place over the decades. This long term perspective is vital for conservationists, informing strategies to protect both birds and habitat, and helping identify environmental issues with implications for people as well.
Join a Christmas Bird Count! Here are all the Christmas Bird Counts in our area that you can join. Just send an email to the compiler if you are interested in joining these efforts:
Atchison, KS John Bolin (BollinJ@umkc.edu) December
Squaw Creek NWR Mark Robbins (firstname.lastname@example.org) December
St. Joseph, MO Larry Lade (email@example.com) December
Trimble (Smithville) Kristi Mayo (firstname.lastname@example.org) December
Bonner Springs, KS John Bollin (BollinJ@umkc.edu) December
Lee’s Summit, MO Mike Stoakes (email@example.com) December 18
Leavenworth, KS John Schukman (firstname.lastname@example.org) January
Olathe, KS Jeff Witters (email@example.com) January