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General News · 19th December 2008
Nancy Kendel
Birders and nature enthusiasts on Cortes Island will join birders across the western hemisphere and participate in Audubon's longest-running wintertime tradition, the Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), held on January 3rd, 2009. This year, over 2,000 individual counts are scheduled to take place throughout the Americas and beyond from December 14, 2008 to January 5, 2009.

“Each CBC volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation,” says Dick Cannings, Bird Studies Canada’s Christmas Bird Count Coordinator. “Bird Studies Canada and our partners at the National Audubon Society in the United States, rely on data from the CBC database to monitor bird populations across North America.”

During last year’s count, about 70 million birds were tallied by nearly 58,000 volunteers across the continent, that number of observers a record level of participation. In Canada, 11,565 participants counted over 3.2 million birds on a record-high 371 counts.

The data gathered by all this work goes into a huge database used daily by biologists all over the world to monitor the populations and distribution of North American birds. Some of it is key evidence for serious declines; recently Christmas Bird Count data provided pivotal information in the decision to list the Newfoundland Red Crossbill and Rusty Blackbird under the federal Species At Risk Act.

The CBC began over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by scientist and writer Frank Chapman, changed the course of ornithological history. On Christmas Day in 1900, the small group posed an alternative to the “side hunt,” a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals. Instead, Chapman proposed that they identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the world's most significant citizen-based conservation effort – and a more than century-old institution.

The 109th CBC is expected to be larger than ever, expanding its geographical coverage and accumulating information about the winter distributions of various birds. The CBC is vital in monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds across the Western Hemisphere, and the data, which are 100% volunteer generated, have become a crucial part of Canada’s natural history monitoring database.

The Cortes CBC is jointly sponsored by the CI Museum and Bird Studies Canada.

Bird Studies Canada is recognized nation-wide as a leading and respected, not-for-profit, conservation organization dedicated to the study and understanding of wild birds and their habitats. Each year, more than 20,000 volunteers actively participate in BSC research and education activities.

Registration is $7.00 for each participant over 18. Hot catered lunch optional. For more information or to register, please phone 935-8508 .
Comment by Robert Carter on 27th November 2008
This is so unscientific that it's laughable. However, it's a chance for many to get out and enjoy nature so knock yourselves out !
Yes, scientific.
Comment by Barry Saxifrage on 27th November 2008
While it might not seem scientific, it is in many ways. This is the longest-running wildlife census on the planet. And there are many uses for the data in science as discussed on website about this count.

One simple example is range expansion and contraction. Over the last 109 years it is easy to see the appearance and disappearance of species from geographic areas using this data.

It isn't good at telling absolute numbers but it is excellent for spotting trends over time.