It’s called the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) because it began on Christmas Day in 1900.
Wildlife conservation was just beginning. One major concern fueling the movement was the drastic bird population decline. In response, an Ornithologist, Frank Chapman, started the bird count as an alternative to a holiday tradition called the Christmas “Side Hunt.” - Hunters would split into two teams and shoot as many animals as possible. The side who shot the most won.
The first CBC included 27 people at 25 locations, and they counted 90 species of birds. 2023 marks the 124th CBC. Today, it involves thousands of volunteers in several countries counting millions of birds and is the longest running citizen science project.
Here are 6 reasons to join the Christmas Bird Count this year:
1. It’s a chance to be a part of history
The CBC tradition has continued for an impressive 124 years because citizens contributing to the survey keep it going.
The valuable data is part of a century of information collected, telling conservationists about the long-term health and condition of bird populations. It also shows how they have changed over time.
Conservationists use the data to understand how to protect birds and their habitat. It also helps determine environmental problems that affect people.
It’s your chance to help tell the collective story of your community and the birds that live there through the data you gather.
2. Help scientists collect vital information
Scientists and conservation organizations use the data to make important decisions and develop conservation strategies that affect your community.
Over 300 peer-reviewed articles have used data from the CBC. Also, it has been used by federal agencies to decide on bird conservation actions and compile conservation reports.
3. Learn something new
If you have concerns about being a beginning birder, don’t let that stop you. When you start your count, you will be paired with an expert to show you the ropes.
You will sharpen your senses by identifying birds by sight and their sounds. It will encourage you to look up and see your community in a different way and learn something new about it.
Birdwatching also teaches you to be present and provides a way to connect with nature.
4. Get exercise while having fun
Birdwatching not only gets your neurons firing, but also it gets you on the move physically. It maximizes the benefits of walking. The possibility of seeing a new bird around the corner will inspire you to keep going. Before you know it, you’ve got your steps in. Don’t be surprised if you want to keep going.
5. Being in nature is good for mental health
For years, studies have shown that being in nature is good for your mental health, decreases stress, and sharpens concentration. On top of that, new studies suggest that just hearing bird songs improves our mental well-being.
The good news is that birds are everywhere. Even in the busiest cities, you can look up and see birds!