Tens Of Thousands Of Citizen Scientists To Count Birds During Christmas Holidays

Published: Nov 1, 2007
Ivyland, PA - 
Audubon's 108th Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will take place from December 14, 2007 to January 5, 2008. The longest-running wildlife census in the world, the count has become an annual tradition for citizen science volunteers in communities throughout the Americas. The data they collect enables Audubon and other conservation partners to assess the status of birds and habitats vital to feathered flyers across the Western Hemisphere.

This year, CBC data helped reveal population declines among many beloved birds. Issued in June, Audubon's Common Birds in Decline analysis generated stunning headlines throughout the US, and focused new attention on habitat loss, climate change and other threats facing familiar birds - and offered ways that people can help keep these common birds common. CBC data are also instrumental to development of the WatchList, a collaboration of Audubon and the American Bird Conservancy that identifies less common birds whose small and declining population sizes and limited ranges put them at imminent threat of extinction.

"Each of the citizen scientists who braves snow, ice, wind, or rain to take part in the Christmas Bird Count is making an enormous contribution to conservation," said Geoff LeBaron, National Audubon's Christmas Bird Count Director. "Counting is the first step in learning how environmental threats are affecting our birds – and in helping to protect them."

New analysis of Christmas Bird Count data will focus on how populations or ranges may be changing due to the effects of global climate change. The proverbial "canaries in the coal mine," birds provide an early warning indicator of the health of the global climate we all share.

The CBC began over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by scientist and writer Frank Chapman, changed the course of ornithological history. On Christmas Day in 1900, the small group posed an alternative to the "side hunt," a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals. Instead, Chapman proposed that they identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the world's most significant citizen-based conservation effort – and a more than century-old institution.

During last year's count, nearly 70 million birds were counted by nearly 58,000 volunteers, a record level of participation – with counts taking place in all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Pacific Islands.

The CBC method requires volunteers must count birds within an established15-mile diameter circle. However, anyone can participate. Beginning birders will be placed in a group, or field party, that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. If your home is within the boundaries of a CBC circle, then you can stay home and report the birds that visit your feeder by sending your sightings to your local count organizer or compiler. New participants should sign up well in in advance of December 14; they will then receive instructions from their compiler regarding where to meet, or how to report feeder data. CBC data are entered online by compilers through the Christmas Bird Count website www.audubon.org/bird/cbc. (In Canada, compilers enter data through CBC partner Bird Studies Canada's site, at www.bsc.eoc.org.). Site visitors can watch results build in their area and across the Americas, as well as learn how local bird populations have changed during the last 100 years.

For more information about Christmas Bird Count www.audubon.org/bird/cbc
For info on Common Birds in Decline http://stateofthebirds.audubon.org/cbid/
To read the New York Times editorial www.audubon.org/news/CBID_NYTimes.html
To see people counting birds in Central Park and hear comments by Geoff LeBaron, see Yahoo's Assignment Earth video http://video.yahoo.com/video/play?vid=1106552539

To received the WatchList announcement November 28, contact dwillis@audubon.org
For TV producers: b-roll available

###
The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

Press Contacts

Nancy Severance
Director - Marketing and Communications
Main Office
225 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014
nseverance@audubon.org
212 979-3124