Tens Of Thousands Of Citizen Scientists To Take Part In Audubon's 107th Christmas Bird Count, Providing Essential Data For Conservation

National Audubon Society's longest-running wintertime tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will take place throughout the Americas from December 14, 2006 to January 5, 2007.

Results from the over 2,000 individual counts expected to take place this year enable Audubon and other conservationists to assess the population status of both resident and migratory birds across the Western Hemisphere, as well as the state of the habitat that is critical to these feathered flyers.

"Each CBC volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation," says Geoff LeBaron, National Audubon's Christmas Bird Count Director. "Audubon and our partners at Bird Studies Canada, the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the Boreal Species Initiative rely on data from the CBC database to develop Audubon's 'State of the Birds' report and inform Audubon's WatchList, which is used to prioritize Audubon's bird conservation work."

During last year's count, about 62 million birds were counted by over 57,000 volunteers. Thanks in part to Bird Studies Canada, the Canadian partner for the CBC, there were 2,060 individual counts – a record high.

The information they collected revealed the effects of the historic 2005 hurricane season: storms dramatically altered where birds were found on a continent-wide level, and the birds displaced by the storms were then discovered in out of range places. Some western birds, most notably Franklin's Gulls, Townsend's Solitaires, and western warblers and tanagers, displaced to Atlantic Canada by hurricanes, were seen moving back southward through the eastern states. In other cases there were unusually high numbers of a particular bird species counted in an area, such as the astounding number of Gray Catbirds on many counts in northeastern North America.

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.

Since Chapman's retirement in 1934, new generations of observers have performed the modern-day count. Today, over 55,000 volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Pacific Islands, count and record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area.

The 107th CBC is expected to be larger than ever, expanding its geographical coverage and accumulating information about the winter distributions of various birds. The data, which are 100% volunteer generated, have become a crucial part of the U.S. Government's natural history monitoring database.

For more information about the CBC, please visit: www.audubon.org/bird/cbc.

CBC compilers enter their count data via Audubon's website at www.audubon.org/bird/cbc or through Bird Studies Canada's homepage at www.bsc-eoc.org, where the 107th Count results will be viewable in near real-time. Explore this information for the winter of 2006-2007 or visit a count from the past. See if and how the state of your local birds has changed during the last 25...50...or 100 years.
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