‘Tis The Season…

24 12 2010

…for Christmas Bird Counts! Between December 14 and January 5, thousands of birders throughout North America will be scouring their favorite 15-mile diameter circles to keep tabs on various bird species populations. Sponsored by the National Audubon Society, this holiday season marks the 111th year of a citizen science project that continues to grow every year. The first CBC was held on Christmas Day in 1900, back when shotguns were the best way to see birds up close, and “conservation” was just a word. There were 25 counts conducted during that first CBC, including three in New Jersey (Englewood, Moorestown and Newfield).

 

CBC data in New Jersey has shown a striking increase in wintering Northern Mockingbird numbers since the early 1900s. Photo by Tom Reed.

Today, more than 2,000 counts and 60,000 participants paint a large-scale picture of wintering bird populations across the continent. The majority of New Jersey is covered in CBC circles, and most are always looking for more help (click here to see a list of NJ Christmas counts, compiled each year by Mike Anderson and Laurie Larson). Whether you’re a casual backyard feeder watcher or a member of your state’s bird records committee, you can make an important contribution to bird conservation by participating in a CBC.

Me? I’ll be participating in four or five Christmas counts in southern New Jersey, including the Mizpah CBC, which I compile. Each count offers its own different set of birds, habitats and fellow counters, making for a fun and unique experience each time we go afield.

Take a break from the holiday hustle and bustle, and take part in a Christmas Bird Count!

 

Birders scan the marshes of Fortescue during the 2008 Cumberland County CBC. Photo by Tom Reed.

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