Christmas Bird Counting – A 120-Year Tradition
The first-ever Audubon Society “Christmas Bird Count” was held on Christmas Day, December 25 in the year 1900. Twenty-five bird counts were organized across North America on that day, with most taking place on the east coast and one count in central California. About 18,500 individual birds were counted, and a total of 89 species were identified.
Efforts towards environmental conservation in the United States began to take hold in the late 1800’s when people and scientists began to become concerned about reduced bird populations.
At that time, an event called the Christmas Day “Side Hunt” had become a popular competition to see who could bring in the biggest pile of feathers and fur.
But a new idea was put forth by an Ornithologist named Frank M. Chapman. It was the idea of a Christmas bird census where people would be encouraged to count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.
Today, tens of thousands of volunteers across the country take part in this annual holiday tradition. The data collected from these counts provides an invaluable long-term perspective about the health and status of bird populations across North America.
Several sites in our area will again be faithfully conducting counts from December 14, 2020 to January 5, 2021. This is a fun outdoor activity for people of all ages to enjoy. Many volunteers come back year after year. You can help with as many counts as you like, and it is free to participate. Volunteers can help your local compilers (count site organizers) by letting them know if you plan to come. This year there will be Coronavirus safety measures in place, your count compiler will let you know what to do.
RivCoParks will be conducting an official Christmas Bird Count this year at the Lake Skinner/Diamond Valley Lake area with the goal to collect data for the Multi-Species Reserve which we help protect and manage. The RivCoParks count will take place on Sunday, December 27, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. Our event compiler is Joe Sherrock, RivCoParks Natural Resources Manager, who can be reached by e-mail: JSherrock@rivco.org A limited number of volunteers may participate, so if you are interested contact Joe right away to reserve your spot.
For a complete list of local Audubon Christmas Bird Count sites and information on how to reach each site compiler click here. Our local San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society has many helpful birding links, visit their website for more information.
Fortunately, the great outdoors remains open for our enjoyment with some simple precautions during the Covid-19 pandemic: bring your facemask/face coverings, use social distancing to protect yourself and others, stay home if you are sick.