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For the 123rd year, the National Audubon Society is hosting the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Between December 14 and January 5, tens of thousands of bird-loving volunteers will participate in counts across the Western Hemisphere. The 12 decades of data gathered by participants contributes to one of only two large pools of information in existence informing ornithologists and conservation biologists about the conservation actions needed to protect the birds and places they need. Find your local account here.
Audubon CBC is one of the oldest wildlife censuses in the world. Each individual count takes place within a 15-mile-wide circle and is led by a compiler responsible for safely organizing volunteers and submitting observations directly to Audubon. In each circle, participants tally up all the birds seen or heard that day – not just the species but the total number to give a clear picture of the health of that particular population. Compliance with national and local COVID-19 guidelines is mandatory.
“The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a great tradition and an opportunity for everyone to be a part of more than 12 decades of ongoing community science,” said Geoff LeBaron, director of Audubon CBC, who began directing community science effort in 1987. “Adding your observations helps scientists and conservationists discover trends that make our work more impactful. Participating in Audubon CBC is a fun and meaningful way to spend a winter for all the world.
When combined with other surveys like the Breeding Bird Survey, the CBC Audubon provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed over time and space over the past hundred years. . The long-term perspective is vital for conservationists. It sheds light on strategies for protecting birds and their habitat and helps identify environmental issues that also have implications for people. For example, in 2019, Science published a study using decades of Audubon CBC data and other datasets to paint a bleak picture: a steady loss of nearly three billion North American birds since 1970. Over the years, Audubon CBC data have been used in over 300 peer-reviewed articles.
Audubon CBC data is also used to measure how birds are already responding to climate change. A 2022 Audubon study used 90 years of Christmas bird count data to show how birds moved amid a century of major environmental change. By tracking the ranges of birds over time, conservation efforts can be prioritized in areas that are important for birds today and in a climate-altered future. With two-thirds of North American bird species threatened with extinction by the end of this century, Audubon CBC data is more important than ever for effective conservation.
Last year, the 122nd Audubon CBC included 2,621 counting circles worldwide. A total of 76,880 observers in the field and observing the feeders counted more than 42 million birds representing approximately 2,500 different species. To observe the trends of a particular species over the past twelve decades, please take a look at the CBC Trends Viewer.
Audubon CBC is a community science project organized by the National Audubon Society in partnership with Birds Canada. There is no cost to participate. The Audubon CBC is open to birders of all skill levels, and Audubon’s free Bird Guide app makes learning even easier. To view Audubon CBC branded clothing, accessories and other items for purchase, please visit the Audubon Shop.
To register for an Audubon CBC and ensure your bird count data is in the official Audubon database, please find the circle nearest you and register with your local Audubon CBC Compiler at using this card. All Audubon CBC data must be submitted through the official compiler to be added to the long-term census. For more information and to find an account near you, visit www.christmasbirdcount.org.
Thanks to the National Audubon Society for providing this news.