Monday, December 14, was a big day! It was the first day of the 116th Christmas Bird Count.
As I’m sure you know, the Christmas Bird Count, a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society, is an early-winter bird census. It runs from December 14 through January 5 every year.
During those 22 days, thousands of volunteers across the United States, Canada, and many countries in the Western Hemisphere count birds over a 24-hour period on one calendar day.
The data they gather are vitally important to birds. The information allows Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies, and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America.
What’s more, participating in a Christmas Bird Count is a lot of fun, an opportunity to spend time with friends during the holiday season while learning about local birds. Plus, taking part is free.
All the best birders do it: Participants in last year’s Cape May Christmas Bird Count included not only BirdWatching contributing editor Pete Dunne and his wife, Linda, but also David La Puma, director of the Cape May Bird Observatory, and authors Richard Crossley, Kevin Karlson, Michael O’Brien, Clay and Pat Sutton, and Scott Whittle.
The 105,000 birds and 160 species they recorded in Cape May helped make last year’s count, the 115th, a smashing success. During it, no fewer than 72,653 birders in 2,462 circles worldwide counted an astounding 68,753,007 birds (64,818,439 in the United States, 3,505,029 in Canada, and 429,539 elsewhere).
Even more amazing, 2,106 bird species were tallied — roughly one-fifth of the avian taxa on Earth. In the United States, 655 species and an additional 66 identifiable forms were counted, while in Canada 305 species were recorded.
With your help, the count starting on Monday will be an even bigger success. The birds will join me in thanking you for your efforts! — Chuck Hagner, Editor
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