Each year since 1900, more than 50,000 people across the globe participate in the National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count of which the primary objective “is to monitor the status and distribution of bird populations across the Western Hemisphere”. Peace River Audubon is proud to be part of this ongoing effort and invites you to participate.
Each December, since 1987, Peace River Audubon Society members have joined forces to participate in the Christmas Bird Count. Participants are separated into teams each of which count the number of birds and species in a portion of a 15-mile diameter circle, the center of which is located at US 41 and Henry Street in Punta Gorda. To facilitate the count, the circle has been divided into twelve areas with a team captain for each area. A $5 fee is collected from each participant at the beginning of the count and is forwarded to the National Audubon Society to fund the compilation of the results on a national basis and make the results available in published form.
Peace River Audubon Society results are presented to all members at a social/meeting about one week after the count, as well as in the January edition of the PRAS White Bird newsletter. To see results from the National Audubon Society click here.
Christmas Bird Count Results
By Malcolm Simons
The venerable Christmas Bird Count is older than I am! Anything that falls within that category is bound to be pretty old—actually quite a bit older in this case, as it passed its 100th birthday in the year 2000. It started as something of a lark, when a small group of birders in Brooklyn and Central Park, New York, thought that it would be fun to see how many birds they could count on Christmas Day…instead of the then-popular pastime of seeing how many birds they could shoot in one day! Incidentally, the term “birder” originally applied to someone who hunted birds, rather than to one who merely observed or counted them.
The idea quickly spread to other groups of people interested in birds in Boston and other New England locations, and eventually to many parts of the country. Today it extends to all 50 states, all of the provinces of Canada, many Caribbean and Central American countries, as well as a few countries on the northern fringe of South America.
It was originally regarded by true Ornithologists as a harmless pastime, with little real scientific value, due to a lack of standardized protocols, uncertain reporting methods, and a wide variation of expertise among those taking part. These problems continue to plague it, but are being improved upon every year. Improved binoculars, scopes, tapes and field guides have greatly improved the ac-curacy of identification. But careful monitoring by leaders and compilers is still necessary in order to avoid wishful thinking in the reports. But the scientists have gradually come to realize that its greatest strength lies in the fact that it is the longest running continuous census of any form of life on the face of the earth! Over the long scope of more than a century, the little glitches inherent in such a widespread volunteer effort tend to even out, and we are left with a very valuable base of data. This value was greatly enhanced after the middle of the past century when computerized storage and analysis of data became available. Today all of the Christmas Bird Count data is available to scientists from all over the world who may be interested in pursuing long-term studies of bird populations and distribution.
For more on the history, please visit the the National Audubon Society CBC website.