In 1900, Frank Chapman organized 27 friends in 25 locations to count birds on Christmas Day to protest bird-shooting contests that were occurring at the same time. Chapman’s decision to count, rather than shoot, the birds became the Christmas Bird Count, a tradition in which many people are participating this year.
Christmas Bird Counts are annual, early-winter bird counts sponsored by the National Audubon Society and involve more than 45,000 people from North and South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. There are about 1,700 counts held during a two and one-half week period before and after Christmas.
Many people are participating in the count as a way to get involved in citizen science. Beginners are welcome, and people can spend a few hours or the entire day counting birds.
Christmas Bird Counts are very valuable. Data collected provides insights into the long-term health of bird populations and the environment.
By Joan Casanova, Bonnie Plants,
Photographs courtesy of Bonnie Plants, Inc.
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