If you’re feeling rather knowledgeable about birding and confident in identifying birds in your area, you may want to consider getting involved in your local Christmas Bird Count. 

What is the Christmas Bird Count?

Started in 1900, the Christmas Bird Count is North America’s longest-running Citizen Science project. It takes place over a single day within a BC community, where bird counts are carried out within a specified 24-km circle area. Depending on your region, it can take place any time between December 14th and January 5th. The counts are organized by local birders, birding clubs, or naturalist organizations and are usually a group effort.

Unlike other broader and more informal bird counts, the Christmas Bird Count is geared towards those more experienced birders who are comfortable and capable with their bird identification and counting skills. The information collected turns into one of the world’s largest sets of wildlife survey data and the results are used by conservation biologists and naturalists to assess the population trends and distribution of birds. It’s important work and birders are happy to help!

Got What It Takes?

To help out and be a part of the Christmas Bird Count effort, please reach out to your local count compiler. Birds Canada has a list of participating communities on their website. As Birds Canada recommends, you should be prepared to dedicate part or all of the count day as either a field observer or feeder watcher somewhere within the count circle. Field observers cover a portion of the count circle on their own or with a small group and count all birds they find. Feeder watchers count birds at their feeders for a portion of the day.

You can learn more about the Christmas Bird Count through Birds Canada. And check out The British Columbia Field Ornithologists’ website which also has a list for dates of local bird counts.

Learn more about citizen science and tips for counting birds in our previous Field Notes post, Birding 101: How to Count Birds.

*Please be aware of current travel and gathering restrictions put in place by the Provincial Health Officer due to COVID-19. Keep up to date before planning any sort of birding excursions with anyone outside of your immediate household. 

Some additional guidelines from Birds Canada:
• Comply with all current public health guidelines for your area.
• Practise physical distancing.
• We very strongly advise that no in-person gatherings are held before or after the count.
• Wear face masks when physical distancing is not possible or when mandated by local health authorities.
• Remember that public health recommendations may change as we approach the CBC season, and even a COVID-Safe CBC might be cancelled at the last minute.