Go birding for science on Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count

Get outdoors and enjoy nature during the Montana Christmas Bird counts.

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Photo courtesy of Montana Audubon

Montana Audubon invites bird enthusiasts to participate in the world’s longest running citizen science survey, the annual Christmas Bird Count. Montana CBCs are now scheduled from Dec. 14 through Jan. 5. Over 30 counts attract nature enthusiasts and birders of all abilities across the state to take part in this longstanding tradition.

Each year, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count mobilizes over 72,000 volunteer bird counters in North America – including nearly 1,000 in Montana. Participants record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area, contributing to a survey that is now 117 years old.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count uses the power of volunteers to track bird populations at a continental scale. Hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles have resulted from analysis using Christmas Bird Count data. As an example, CBC observations have proven critical in understanding how birds respond to climate change – showing that many species are moving their wintering areas further north.

Birders of all ages and experience are welcome to participate in this fun citizen-science outing. There is no cost to attend. Each individual count is performed in a 15-mile diameter count circle. At least 10 volunteers, including a compiler to coordinate the process, count in each circle. The volunteers break into small parties and follow assigned routes, with little variation from year to year, counting every bird they see. In most count circles, some people observe bird activity at feeders in the count area.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when Dr. Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore – the forerunner of Audubon magazine – suggested an alternative to the holiday “side hunt,” where teams competed to bag the most birds. Now over a century later, CBC counts are a great way to learn more about birds and enjoy the company of others through a shared love of nature.

To find the nearest Montana CBC to you, or for more information about the program, visit: www.mtaudubon.org.

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