The Christmas Bird Count is our nation’s longest-running citizen science project; now in its 119th year. From December 14-January 5 each year, volunteers across the continent brave the winter elements to take part in this census. The Land Between the Lakes count circle has been a part of the program for over 50 years.

Bird enthusiasts interesting in participating in the CBC can sign up and join in through the Audubon website beginning in November. Registration is requested, so please call 270.924.2299 and ask for Arrianne to sign up and for more information.

This year’s Audubon Christmas Bird Count will take place on December 15. Registered counters will meet at the Nature Station at 6:30 am where teams will be organized to include everyone. You can go out for just the morning or spend the full day. The bird count will end at around 1:30 pm.

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Both experienced and beginner birders are welcome. This is a wonderful way to see the winter wildlife of LBL. Just head into the field to look and listen for birds! All the data collected goes to National Audubon Society’s science programs and other organizations which track long-term trends in bird populations.

Participants are asked to bring a sack lunch, binoculars and a field guide. You’re invited to meet back for the lunch-time roundup of the morning’s sightings. Please dress appropriately for the weather.

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History of the Bird Count

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.

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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 the counts combined. 

From December 14 through January 5 each year tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas brave snow, wind, or rain, and take part in the effort. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this long-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations, and to help guide conservation action.

iLearnThe 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.