Calling All Citizen Scientists!
It’s that time of year when the Red Rock Audubon Society gets ready to participate in the yearly Christmas Bird Count Participation is open to all!
History: Originally post at Audubon.org
Prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas “Side Hunt.” They would choose sides and go afield with their guns—whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.
Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the then-nascent Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition—a “Christmas Bird Census” that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.
So began the Christmas Bird Count. Thanks to the inspiration of Chapman and the enthusiasm of 27 dedicated birders, 25 Christmas Bird Counts were held that day. The locations ranged from Toronto, Ontario to Pacific Grove, California with most counts in or near the population centers of northeastern North America. Those original 27 Christmas Bird Counters tallied around 90 species on all counts combined.
The data collected by observers over the past century allow Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.
The long term perspective is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to protect birds and their habitat, and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well.
Each individual count is performed in a “count circle” with a diameter of 15 miles on a scheduled day. At least ten volunteers, including a compiler to manage things, count in each circle. They break up into small parties and follow assigned routes, which change little from year to year, counting every bird they see. In most count circles, some people also watch feeders instead of following routes.
Counts can be held on any day from December 14 to January 5 inclusive.
Participation is open to all.
In southern Nevada, Red Rock Audubon Society conducts six circles:
- Ash Meadows NWR = Friday Dec 16th. 2106
- National Desert Wildlife Refuge = Saturday Dec 17th. 2016
- Pahranagat NWR = Monday Dec 19th. 2016
- Henderson = Wednesday Dec 21st. 2016
- Muddy Rivers = Sunday Jan 1st, 2017
- Red Rock Conservation Area = Monday Jan 2nd. 2017
CBC Participant Information:
“There is a specific methodology to the CBC and all participants MUST make arrangements IN ADVANCE with the Circle Compiler or sign up for each circle on Red Rock Audubon’s website. “
Anyone can participate. However, if you are a beginning birder, you will need to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. It’s important you let the compiler know your birding experience level. You will be counting all species and numbers that you can identify.
Each count takes place in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle, and is organized by a count compiler. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile (24-km) diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear in a 24 hour period. Volunteers need to prepared for a long day in the field. Some circles will include predawn counts of nocturnal birds.
Your compiler will provide you with:
Circle compiling meetup location and time.
Specific group route and CBC instructions for the day.
Volunteers need to wear the appropriate clothing for the local weather conditions, bring food and water. Binoculars and communication devices are required. You need to be prepared for a full day in the field
Visit Redrockaudubon.com for detailed information.