Christmas doesn’t only mean four French hens, two turtle doves – or a roast turkey on the table.
Beginning in 1900 counting birds around Christmas time has become a treasured tradition in the birding community, one that welcomes new participants as well.
The Ottawa Citizen’s Don Butler summarizes the action from this side of the border as Ottawa birders gear up for ‘singalong Messiah of the birding world’. That article states a dozen bird counts are planned in Eastern Ontario during the Christmas count period from Dec. 14 and Jan. 5 – including this Sunday’s one-day counting event in the Ottawa region.
More information on that can be found on the website for the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club.
Todd Moe has shared different aspects of Christmas bird counts across many winters.
The National Audubon Society’s website has more on Christmas bird counting activities including a FAQ page and a way to search for a count near you. Or go local and head to the website for the Northern New York Audubon Christmas Bird Count page. They get started Saturday Dec 14th with a count in Ferrisburgh (VT/NY).
By the way, if you run into “CBC” on the birding sites, in this case it means “Christmas Bird Count”, not Canada’s national broadcaster!
Though donations are still welcome, the nominal fee of $5 charged in past years has been dropped.
The cross-border count spanning Cornwall and Massena, N.Y., is scheduled for Dec. 22.
You can bundle up to count in the great outdoors. Or sit tight and take note of bird-feeder visitors from the warm side of your own window. Either way helps, according to the Audubon Society:
The data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists, and interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America.
Even if you don’t participate in any formal sense, it’s a nice exercise in mindful observation to take note of wildlife in the world around us.