Christmas Bird Count

Today was the day of the Christmas Bird Count.

For those who have never heard of it, it's a once-a-year activity organized by the Audobon Society. Volunteers go out into a carefully-defined circle some miles across, and count every bird (by species) seen in the circle. Each person or group is assigned an area within the circle so that the same area isn't covered twice. Some communities have been doing this for decades, others for over 100 years.

At the end of the day, everyone gets together to share their data and eat a potluck dinner together. COVID prevented the potluck this year, but everything else was normal.

It was a very cold day, starting out around 0F (-18C) and warming up to 18F (-8C) by late morning. My husband and I walked about three hours in the morning, passing along dirt roads, logging every bird we found. After a late, hot lunch at home, we got in the car and drove through a different area, stopping periodically to listen or get out of the car briefly. By the end of the day, we were pretty tired, but had made a good count.

We always look forward to this early winter activity. It's a great excuse to get outside, get some exercise in spite of the cold, and connect with other people who enjoy birds.


  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    That is really cool. I've never heard about it. What kinds did you see?

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Crow, blue jay, black-capped chickadee, ruffed grouse, red-tailed hawk, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, mourning dove, common redpoll...many types! But the total count was down this year, probably because it was so cold with significant snow on the ground. Some birds may have stayed deeper in the woods and remained inactive, waiting for better weather. And the snow covered many of the possible sources of food.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,517 admin

    Our local Field Naturalist Society does a Christmas bird count. They are linked with both the Audobon Society and Birds Canada. Ours is being held today. Last year counts of 4158 birds in 52 species were slightly lower than average which was blamed on the lack of snow cover. That made feed accessible in other more remote areas that aren't counted. This year is similar, with a lack of snow cover. However, we still have trumpeter swans as it hasn't been very cold and we still have lots of areas of open water. Usually the swans migrate a bit further south to winter and are long gone by this time of year.

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    This sounds really cool! I don't think I have one of these in my area though.