What is the nationwide Audubon Christmas Bird Count? It is the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world, and will take place Dec. 18 in San Juan County.
Tens of thousands of volunteers throughout North America will brave winter weather to add a new layer to over a century of data. This year many eyes will be on the Gulf Coast and the bird count will help reveal impacts from residual oil and chemicals from BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster.
In California, participants will look for the California Condor; the number of wild, free-flying condors in California recently reached 100, the most in half a century. Scientist rely on the remarkable trend data of Audubon’s Christmas birds count to better understand how birds and the environment are faring throughout North America – and what needs to be done to protect them.
The CBC began in 1900 when biologist Frank Chapman suggested an alternative to the “side hunt,” in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most game, including birds. He proposed that people “hunt” birds only to count them.
The Christmas Bird Count becomes more important every year. The resulting data not only helps identify birds in most urgent need of conservation action; it reveals success stories. The CBC helped document the comeback of the previously endangered Bald Eagle, and significant increases in waterfowl populations, both the result of conservation efforts. Accuracy is assured by having new participants join an established group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. Volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle or can arrange in advance to count the birds at home feeders inside the circle and submit the results to a designated compiler. All individual Christmas Bird Counts are conducted between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5 (inclusive) each season, with each individual count occupying a single calendar day.
The San Juan Island count is Dec. 18. Contact Barbara Jensen on 378-306 or email@example.com for information or if you would like to participate.