Audubon's Christmas Bird Count Underway

Henrietta Brewer
December 15, 2017

The annual Christmas bird count begins across Iowa with volunteers working with count coordinators from the Iowa Ornithologists Union to identify one day between Thursday and January 5 to count every bird - seen or heard - in their designated area.

Prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas "Side Hunt".

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, many volunteers find the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) comfortably close to home. Bird counters are welcome for either the whole day or part of the day.


This group, organized by scientist and writer Frank Chapman, changed the course of ornithological history by deciding to compete in teams to identify, count and record the most birds and small mammals observed during the day. The dates and contact information for each event are listed at vt.audubon.org/audubon-christmas-bird-count-0. The Big Horn/Story Bird count will take place December 30. "Having more feeder watchers and the Dickinson County Nature Center involved will get us better data and produce even more fun".

Another avid birder, Matthew Mecklenburg, a land steward with the Nature Conservancy in Glyndon, wanted to grow the birding options in the Pelican Rapids area, so he helped start a new count circle there this year.

It is, like the Christmas Bird Count, a citizen science project, but it is also the first online citizen-science project to collect wild bird data and display the results in real time.


If you would like to participant or have questions about the count in Fergus Falls (Dec. 16) or Battle Lake (Dec. 31) contact head compiler Steve Millard at 218-736-7411.

One of the interesting things discovered during the snapshot was a shift of bird populations, including the large irruption of Snowy Owls across the northeastern, mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes areas of the United States. Organizers and participants include birders and biologists from Audubon Vermont, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, and many other groups.


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