A History of Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count from National Audubon:
“Prior to the turn of the century, people 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 quarry won.
Conservation was in its beginning stages around the turn of the 20th century, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, an early officer in the then budding Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition-a “Christmas Bird Census”-that would count birds in the holidays rather than hunt them.
So began the Christmas Bird Count. Thanks to the inspiration of Frank M. Chapman and the enthusiasm of twenty-seven dedicated birders, twenty-five 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 the counts combined. Now, this count provides one of the most important ways to study bird population trends.”
Why is the count important?
The data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists, and 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, this data provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years. Currently the data are being used to evaluate the changes in bird distribution due to climate change.
The 2016 Story-Big Horn Christmas Bird Count will be on December 30th. Please contact Ariel Downing for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org