Monday, December 13, 2010

The Christmas Bird Count

I can't believe it is already time for the Christmas Bird Count. Amazing how fast this year has sped passed. I always like to add a brief piece about the history of the CBC and, hopefully, entice some new people into getting involved with this growing nature census. The following is from the National Audubon Society's website:

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History of the Christmas Bird Count

Prior to the turn of the century, people engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas "Side Hunt": They would choose sides and go afield with their guns; whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.

Conservation was in its beginning stages around the turn of the 20th century, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, an early officer in the then budding Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition-a "Christmas Bird Census"-that would count birds in the holidays rather than hunt them.

So began the Christmas Bird Count. Thanks to the inspiration of Frank M. Chapman and the enthusiasm of twenty-seven dedicated birders, twenty-five Christmas Bird Counts were held that day. The locations ranged from Toronto, Ontario to Pacific Grove, California with most counts in or near the population centers of northeastern North America. Those original 27 Christmas Bird Counters tallied around 90 species on all the counts combined.

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This year is the 111th Annual Christmas Bird Count and in New York it runs from Tuesday, December 14, 2010 to Wednesday, January 5, 2011. Here are the dates for the 5 boroughs of New York City:

Saturday, December 18, 2010 - Brooklyn and Staten Island
Sunday, December 19, 2010 - Queens and Central Park
Sunday, December 26, 2010 - Bronx-Westchester Region

For more information, the New York State Ornithological Society has a page here.

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