Press Room

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

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 (In Canada, compilers enter data through CBC partner Bird Studies Canada's site, at 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
For info on Common Birds in Decline
To read the New York Times editorial
To see people counting birds in Central Park and hear comments by Geoff LeBaron, see Yahoo's Assignment Earth video

To received the WatchList announcement November 28, contact
For TV producers: b-roll available
“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”