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December14–January 5

Christmas Bird Count Week – December 14-January 5, 2024

The Christmas Bird Count Week is from December 14 to January 5. This week-long celebration is an international census of birds undertaken by birdwatchers in the Western Hemisphere. North Americans in the U.S. and Canada participate actively in this counting, with the most contributions coming from these countries. Nevertheless, birdwatchers from over 17 countries participate in the Christmas Bird Count. The number of observers increases every year. The count is conducted by the National Audubon Society — an environmental organization devoted to the conservation of birds.

History of Christmas Bird Count Week

The Christmas Bird Count Week is celebrated from December 14 to January 5. This celebration is a citizen science survey where volunteer bird watchers in the Northern Hemisphere winter perform a census of the birds in the Western Hemisphere.

The Christmas Bird Count week evolved out of an old hunting tradition in North America. Many North Americans were involved in side hunts over the Christmas period, where they would actively hunt as many birds as they could. This hunting was competitive, which meant that many birds were hunted and killed in the Christmas hunts. Birds of all kinds got killed needlessly during this hunt as the hunters boosted their numbers.

Frank Chapman, an ornithologist, and founder of ‘Bird-Lore’ suggested a change in the tradition. He recommended that instead of hunting birds down and killing them, the Christmas tradition could involve counting them. The first group of observers was very few, about 27 people counted birds that winter. However, they identified about 18,500 individual birds across 90 different species.

The success of the first observers led to the group of bird-watchers increasing every passing year. All the data collected through the Christmas Bird Count Week is used for the sciences, especially conservation biology.

Participation is open to all volunteers, so people do not have to be specifically skilled to count birds during the Christmas Bird Count Week. Every person is assigned a count circle of about 15 miles in diameter, and everyone works in teams of 10 to count the birds in the circle.

Christmas Bird Count Week timeline

Christmas Side Hunts are Popular

Across North America, hunters participate in competitions hunting as many birds as possible.

Frank Chapman Introduces Counting

Ornithologist Frank Chapman recommends counting the birds due to massive hunts.

The Count Expands Across Countries

The U.S., Canada, and 17 other countries participate in Christmas Bird Count Week.

C.B.C. is Now Free

While it is open to all, from 2012, the Christmas Bird Count participation is free of charge.

Christmas Bird Count Week FAQs

How many Christmas Bird Count circles are there?

There are over 2,100 active C.B.C. circles across the U.S., Canada, and Latin America.

Why is the Christmas Bird Count important?

The data from C.B.C. can be used to track bird populations over long periods.

What is bird counting?

Birders count every single bird that they see or hear in a day for bird counting.

Christmas Bird Count Week Activities

  1. Participate in the C.B.C.

    The best way to celebrate the C.B.C. is to participate in it. Sign up for the year’s count with the Audubon Society and get involved.

  2. Take-up birdwatching

    Even if you don’t want to contribute data or count birds, you can still take up birdwatching and learn to appreciate the wonder of birds. This C.B.C. buy some binoculars and watch the birds around you.

  3. Discourage hunting for pleasure

    The C.B.C. started as an effort to get people to appreciate wildlife instead of hunting them indiscriminately. Get hunters into counting birds instead.

5 Facts About Bird Watching That Will Surprise You

  1. It is a growing activity

    Bird watching, also birding, is among the fastest-growing outdoor activities in the United States.

  2. It satisfies our instincts to hunt

    Bird watching curbs the urge humans have to hunt and avoids casualties.

  3. It developed around the 20th century

    Bird watching started recently with bird studies and the invention of optical aids like binoculars.

  4. Bird watching began in Britain

    The activity first became popular in Great Britain, followed by the United States.

  5. Amateurs support fieldwork

    Photographs and bird census’s inexperienced bird watchers have aided ornithologists’ studies.

Why We Love Christmas Bird Count Week

  1. We think citizen science is helpful

    We love the idea of the layperson contributing to science by collecting data. We want to support science and the study of birds.

  2. Bird counting is fun

    The idea of stepping out in the winter and looking for the birds hidden away in the branches is adventurous. We think it's a reason to get outdoors in the cold.

  3. We want to join the community

    A growing number of people partake in the Christmas Bird Count Week every year. We want to join the community and talk about birds with more people.

Christmas Bird Count Week dates

2024December 14Saturday
2025December 14Sunday
2026December 14Monday
2027December 14Tuesday
2028December 14Thursday

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