The 2015 Christmas Bird Counting is about to start the fallowing week, on December 14, ending on January 5. Many nature enthusiasts will take part in this year’s counting, but also scientists and random citizens. Anybody is welcome as long as they can spot a bird.
The Christmas Bird Counting is a nation-wide citizen science project which helps ornithologists identify and keep track of native bird populations at winter time.
Every year more than 72,000 volunteers participate in the Christmas Bird Count, in more than 2,400 locations across the globe. It is a large scale project that accomplishes in a short period of time something that scientists would never be able to accomplish by themselves.
Until now, more than 200 peer-reviewed studies have been based on analysis done with data from the Christmas Bird Count. One of the biggest finding until now was the way in which native birds respond to climate change that helped scientists realize that 314 North American bird species are threatened by global warming.
The Christmas Bird Count is a tradition which began in 1900. At that time, Dr Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore magazine, which was then renamed to Audubon magazine, proposed an alternative to a horrible holiday event, called the ‘side hunt’, a bird-shooting competition.
The Christmas Bird Count has continued since then, for 115 years and it’s still expected to continue a long time from now since there are so many enthusiast citizens participating every year. It is the longest-running citizen-based science study in the world.
As the technology evolves, the tradition mixed with modern technology makes mapping easier and enables discoveries that weren’t possible years ago.
Volunteers can participate in the counting by themselves or by joining a local organized group. Joining an organized group might mean waking up before sunrise and walking for many miles for an entire day. Groups sometimes offer trainings to volunteers and almost always have at least one specialist conducting the counting efforts.
If you are interested in joining a group, just search the internet for the website of local branches of the Audubon Society. If not, you can just count the birds coming to your birdfeeder. You don’t have to be an expert and identify all the species, – taking pictures or describing them, fallowing the counting is just enough.
The Christmas Bird Count is funded entirely by private donations which help supporting the organized groups, managing the database and purchase the needed technology.
Image source: pixabay.com