You can add to a century of community science by signing up for a count near you.
Audubon's 121st Christmas Bird Count will be conducted between the dates of Monday, December 14, 2020 through Tuesday, January 5, 2021. The Christmas Bird Count occurs December 14 to January 5 every year.
Please note that the COVID-19 pandemic will affect CBC participation. Pending local restrictions, many counts will be done under the COVID-19 guidelines sent to compilers, while others will likely be cancelled. Visit the map linked below for current information.
A map view of the circles expected to be included in the 121st CBC is available here. If you're interested in participating this season, check out the map to find a count near you; more circles will be added as they are approved. Green and yellow circles are open for new participants, and red circles are full. Online registration is not available—please contact compilers by email using the information from the pop-ups on the map.
Already signed up for a count? Then head over to our CBC Live tracker to see photos posted from others who are scouting for or participating in the Christmas Bird Count, and upload your own photos!
In November you will also be able to view the circles by state or use ESRI's free mobile app to view updated public maps of all CBC circles by state! Click here to download the free ESRI Explorer app for iOS or Android. Find CBC circles by searching on your state’s full name + “Christmas Bird Count”.
Since the Christmas Bird Count began over a century ago, it has relied on the dedication and commitment of volunteers like you. Please keep reading to learn more about the Christmas Bird Count.
When does the count happen?
All Christmas Bird Counts are conducted between December 14 to January 5, inclusive dates, each season. Your local count will occur on one day between those dates. Participate in as many counts as you wish!
How does participation work?
There is a specific methodology to the CBC, and all participants must make arrangements to participate in advance with the circle compiler within an established circle, but anyone can participate.
Each count takes place in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle, and is organized by a count compiler. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile (24-km) diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It's not just a species tally—all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day.
If you are a beginning birder, you will be able to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher.
If your home is within the boundaries of a CBC circle, then you can stay at home and report the birds that visit your feeder on count day as long as you have made prior arrangement with the count compiler. Check out the sign-up link above during the sign-up season for information on how to contact the compiler.
See additional questions about CBC participation below.
Since it is free, how is this program funded?
The Christmas Bird Count relies 100 percent on donations to provide support to compilers and volunteers on count day, to manage the historic database, and to fund the technology to make historic data available to researchers. The data collected by CBC participants over the past century and more have become one of only two large pools of information informing ornithologists and conservation biologists how the birds of the Americas are faring over time.
In 2012 we made CBC participation free to make it accessible to anyone. Now we ask for your support to keep the program free and to help us ensure the future of the program. Please make a donation today to this very important community science effort.
Other questions about CBC participation
What is the Christmas Bird Count? The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society, with over 100 years of community science involvement. It is an early-winter bird census, where thousands of volunteers across the U.S., Canada, and many countries in the Western Hemisphere go out over a 24-hour period on one calendar day to count birds.
Can I just do my own CBC and send you my data? No. Since each CBC is a real census, and since the 15-mile diameter circle contains a lot of area to be covered, single-observer counts (except in unusual circumstances) cannot be allowed. To participate in the CBC, you will need to join an existing CBC circle by contacting the compiler in advance of the count day.
As an alternative, you may be interested in getting involved in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) organized by Audubon with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It takes place President's Day weekend each February, and you can count the birds each day in your backyard/community and then enter the results online. For more information on the GBBC, visit the Audubon GBBC page.
Why do some Christmas Bird Count circles not allow online registration? Accepting online registrations of participants is the individual decision of each circle compiler and is based on a number of factors, including the number of participants already committed to the count, the amount of area already covered, and the compiler's available time.
Defend America's Most Important Bird Law
Tell Congress to stop efforts to strip away critical protections in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Get Audubon in Your Inbox
Let us send you the latest in bird and conservation news.
Find Audubon Near You
Visit your local Audubon center, join a chapter, or help save birds with your state program.