A Different December Tradition: Counting Birds

DEC 10

Beginning on December 14, thousands of volunteers will leave their warm homes, brave the cold and count birds. Why, you might ask? To be a part of the longest running wildlife census in the world, the Christmas Bird Count, keeping up a family tradition that spans generations.

Before the turn of the century, hunters partook in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas Side Hunt. Groups split up into sides to compete for the biggest bird hunt. At the turn of the century, conservationism had begun to take root; many bird watchers noted the decline of bird populations. So the Audubon Society proposed an idea: instead of hunting, why not count the birds?

Since then, families, students, scientists, and bird-lovers across the Americas awake before the dawn, step into the early morning air and embark on a mission. With binoculars and field guides at hand, the volunteers collect data that provides insight into population trends, health, movement, and is used to better guide conservation efforts. Like the old times, some participants carry on the spirit of friendly competition, but most do it for the experience - to be involved in nature for the good of conservation. For more information on the Christmas Bird Count, click here.