From the Field

Connecting YOU with Wildlife – Pennsylvania Game Commission

115th Christmas Bird Count

redheadedWoodpecker Photo: Jacob Dingel

Did you register for the 115th Christmas Bird Count?

The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world. This year it runs from Dec. 14, 2014 through January 5, 2015.

What is the Christmas Bird Count?

It is a census of birds in the Western Hemisphere, performed annually by volunteer birdwatchers and administered by the National Audubon Society.

Counting Methods

Each count is performed on one day during the specified date range in a count circle with a diameter of 15 miles. Each count circle has at least ten volunteers. These volunteers break into small parties and follow assigned route, counting every bird they see and hear. Some volunteers may count from feeders at their homes.

Data

The results are then submitted to Audubon. The data collected by observers allows researchers to study the health and status of bird populations across North America. It also allows biologists to see how bird populations have changed over the years.

Indicator

The bird count data can serve as an indication of environmental health. A decline in bird populations may indicate habitat fragmentation, groundwater contamination, or negative effects of pesticides.

Application

The research from this count can also be used to manage bird populations. In the 1980s the data documented the decline of wintering populations of the American Black Duck. Therefore, hunting pressures on this species were reduced in an effort to conserve the species.

How to Participate

Search the Audubon map for a Christmas Bird Count circle near you and contact the local compiler in advance of the count day to arrange to participate. Birders of all experience levels are welcome to participate. Inexperienced birders will be paired with seasoned bird counters. There is no fee to join the Christmas Bird Count..

If you haven’t already registered, you may be too late to register for this season. As an alternative, you may be interested in the Great Backyard Bird Count which takes place President’s Day weekend each February. During this count you may count the birds in your backyard and enter the results online.

You can learn more about the Christmas Bird Count in this video.

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