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Categorized | Outdoors

Join the Christmas bird count

Citizen science data vital to conservation

_OUT-White-breasted-nuthatcThe longest running citizen science survey in the world, Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will take place between December 14, 2009 and January 5, 2010. From Alaska to Antarctica, tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the hemisphere will add a new layer to over a century of bird population information.

Scientist rely on this remarkable trend data to better understand how birds and the environment are faring throughout North America and what needs to be done to protect them.

The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when the founder of Bird-Lore (the progenitor of Audubon magazine), Frank Chapman, suggested an alternative to the “side hunt,” in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most game, including birds. Chapman proposed that people “hunt” birds only to identify, count, and record them. “When Frank Chapman started the Christmas Bird Census, it was a visionary act,” said Audubon President John Flicker. “No one could have predicted how important the CBC would become as a resource and tool for conservation.”

CBC data not only helps identify birds in most urgent need of conservation action, it reveals success stories. The Christmas Bird Count helped document the comeback of the previously endangered Bald Eagle, and significant increases in waterfowl populations, both the result of conservation efforts.

“Everyone who takes part in the Christmas Birds Count plays a critical role in helping us focus attention and conservation where it is most needed,” said Audubon Chief Scientist, Dr. Tom Bancroft. Counts are often multi-generational family or community traditions that make for fascinating stories. Accuracy is assured by having new participants join an established group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile (24-km) diameter circle or can arrange in advance to count the birds at home feeders inside the circle and submit the results to a designated compiler. All individual Christmas Bird Counts are conducted between December 14 and January 5 (inclusive) each season, with each individual count occupying a single calendar day.

Check out this web page in order to apply: www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/getinvolved.html

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