Holiday Birding Traditions, as Told by Our Members

Christmas Bird Count, wintertime treats, and more . . .

In November, we asked some of our most loyal supporters (who had opted to participate in our Donor Insight Panel survey) to share their holiday-time bird traditions with us. Many families have bird or birding-related traditions this time of year. In fact, you might be aware that the Christmas Bird Count started out in 1900 as an alternative to a tradition of that era to go hunting on Christmas Day. An overwhelming amount of the 156 members who shared their traditions with us were proud to mention participating in the Christmas Bird Count with their families.

Audubon members also send bird-themed Christmas cards, keep their feeders stocked, and even provide extra treats for the birds on their feeders. One of our members puts out a huge decorated bowl of sunflower seeds for Northern Cardinals. Many supporters take joy in watching the Dark-eyed Juncos and White-crowned Sparrows return for the winter. They decorate their Christmas trees with bird ornaments.

Here are six of our favorite stories:

  • "Growing up in the Midwest near the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes, we take time during this season to observe the arrival of the Juncos, the silence of the Red-winged Blackbirds, spotting hawks previously hidden among the leaves and venturing to the Mississippi to view the gathering of the Bald Eagles, occasionally spotting great flocks of migrating birds as they seem to lyrically move as one."
  • "I look for cardinals on Christmas Day because my mother said their appearance means good luck for the coming year. Also, we regularly feed birds with suet cakes, niger seed and black-striped sunflower seeds, provide heated water."
  • "About 5 years ago my nephew’s family and I talked about the colder winters in North Carolina (versus here in Florida). Since then I’ve sent them wreaths and bird seed ornaments for the outside deck each Christmas. The birds love it; they love watching the birds and amazing photos are made..."
  • "I give a bird ornament to my son each Christmas, and the three of us always do the Christmas Bird Count. We usually prepare special holiday treats for the birds, like cranberry-and-seed mixes and homemade suet."
  • "I like to go bird watching on New Year's Day, because I get a natural start to the year.  I have also started recording my 'first bird of the year' on that day, an idea I got from Bill Thompson III, the editor of Bird Watcher's Digest."
  • "We make sure to feed and water the birds during the winter months and we have many bird ornaments on our Christmas tree. I've also made bird emergency kits, which are just a shoe box, a pair of garden gloves, some straw and a microwavable bean bag. When birds bang into a window, they can sit in the box until they recover so they don't freeze while recovering. I've given away a few emergency kits to family members."

If you are interested in participating in our Donor Insight Panel Survey, please email for more information.