For Antigo Times
Antigo, WI – Between December 14, 2015 and January 5, 2016, hawk-eyed volunteers across the country will brave various weather conditions to count birds during the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). On December 19, birders and nature enthusiasts in the Antigo area will take part in this tradition, rising before dawn to participate in the longest running wildlife census on the planet.
Each year, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count mobilizes over 70,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,400 locations across the Western Hemisphere. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that professional scientists could never accomplish alone. Data compiled in Antigo will record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area, contributing to a vast citizen science network that continues a tradition stretching back more than 100 years!
Last year’s count in Antigo revealed some visitors from the far north – Snowy Owls – and it looks like we may be seeing some again this year…
Counts took place in all 50 states, all Canadian provinces, and over 100 count circles in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. A total of 2,462 counts and 72,653 observers tallied over 68 million birds of 2,106 different species. “This is not just about counting birds,” says Gary Langham, Audubon’s chief scientist. “Data from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count are at the heart of hundreds peer-reviewed scientific studies and inform decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of the Interior, and the EPA. Because birds are early indicators of environmental threats to habitats we share, this is a vital survey of North America and, increasingly, the Western Hemisphere.”
The Audubon Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when Dr. Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore– which evolved into Audubon magazine — suggested an alternative to the holiday “side hunt,” where teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds. While the ultimate goal of participating on a count is tallying a representative sample of the birds on a count day, the natural competitive spirit of birders is what drives them to do the most thorough job possible. CBC has become a treasured holiday tradition, a reunion with birding friends and a way to play a small part in a big conservation picture. The growing combined pool of contributed sightings helps researchers understand how birds are faring in a way that Frank M. Chapman could never have conceived of back in 1900.
The annual Christmas Bird Count is a Citizen Science project organized by the National Audubon Society. There is no fee to participate and the annual published report, American Birds, is available online. Audubon Christmas Bird Count information is also available online in Spanish. For more information and to find a count near you visit, http://www.christmasbirdcount.org/getinvolved
If you would like more information about Antigo’s Christmas Bird Count, you can contact Carol Haas at (715) 216-4229 or email@example.com or Molly McKay firstname.lastname@example.org (If you are interested in counting, but don’t want to drive or hike, you can participate at home by watching your feeders and reporting your results to Carol – call for details!)