For some of us, this season is not all about carols, presents, and audacious sweaters. It’s Christmas Bird Count season! It’s time to gather with friends, pile into cars, traverse wintry landscapes and icy roads, and stand in howling gales trying to count birds! The Christmas Bird Count tradition began in response to “side hunts” in the 1800s, where groups would try to see who could shoot the most birds. In 1900, Frank M. Chapman suggested counting as an alternative. Needless to say, the idea stuck. Last year there were more than 2,500 counts across North America, and over 73,000 observers. The overall count of a little over 52,000,000 birds was down a bit due to poor weather.
This year will be the 119th Christmas Bird Count. If you’d like to join in the longest-running citizen science effort, you can join a field team, or count birds at your feeders if you live in a designated count circle. Here are dates and contacts for the local counts:
Antrin County: December 16, Coordinator: John Kreag (231) 264-8969 or cell: (231) 360-0943
Benzie County: December 16 (http://www.benzieaudubon.org/)
Contact (231-352-4739) to join a group in the field or (231-325-2445) to watch birds at home.
Grand Traverse County: December 15 Coordinator: Ed Moehle (231) 947-8821
Leelanau County: December 19 (Wednesday) Coordinator: Nate Crane firstname.lastname@example.org
So grab your binoculars and come on out! It’s a great way to get to know local birders and hotspots. Usually, counters meet at the end of the day to warm up and tally up the results. Hope to see you out there this year!
Visit the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count site for lots more information and results of past counts.