Contact: John Bianchi 212/979-3026 jbianchi@xxxxxxxxxxx AUDUBON INVITES BIRDERS AND NATURE ENTHUSIASTS TO TAKE PART IN 104th ANNUAL CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT Health of Boreal Forest Birds is a Focus of this Year's Count New York, NY Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - The National Audubon Society calls upon volunteers everywhere to join with birders across the western hemisphere and participate in Audubon's longest-running winter-time tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). This year, nearly 2,000 individual counts are scheduled to take place throughout the Americas from December 14, 2003 to January 5, 2004. During this year's count, Audubon scientists are highlighting the fact that many of the birds to be counted are produced in the great North American boreal forest, extending from Alaska to Eastern Canada. At the close of the count, Audubon will analyze the population status and trends of the birds of the boreal forests to see how these species are faring. Boreal species that appear to be declining that have been commonly seen on CBCs include Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, and especially Rusty Blackbird. CBC began over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by scientist Frank Chapman, changed the course of ornithological history. On Christmas Day 1900, the small group of conservationists posed an alternative to the "side hunt," a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals. Instead, Chapman proposed to identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the most significant citizen-based conservation effort and a more than century-old institution. Today, over 55,000 volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Pacific islands count and record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area. During the 103rd count, about 73 million birds were counted. Thanks in part to Bird Studies Canada, a leading not-for-profit conservation organization that is Canadian partner for the CBC, last year again saw a record high - this time, 1,981 individual counts. Each count group completes a census of the birds found during one 24-hour period between December 14 and January 5 in a designated circle 15 miles in diameter-about 177 square miles. Apart from its attraction as a social and competitive event, CBC reveals valuable scientific data. Now in its 104th year, CBC is larger than ever, expanding its geographical range and accumulating information about the winter distributions of various birds, and it is vital in monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds across the Western Hemisphere. The data, 100% volunteer generated, have become a crucial part of the U. S. Government's natural history monitoring database. Articles published in the 103rd CBC issue of American Birds helped ornithologists better understand the magnitude of the effects of West Nile virus on regional bird populations. In addition, count results from 1900 to the present are available through Audubon's website www.audubon.org/bird/cbc . "Backed with over a century of participation and collected data, the Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running, volunteer-based bird census, spanning three human generations," said Geoff LeBaron, Director of Christmas Bird Count. "The CBC has evolved into a powerful and important tool, one probably inconceivable to any of the 27 participants on the first Christmas Bird Count. With continually growing environmental pressures, it seems likely that today's participants cannot possibly fathom the value of their efforts now and in the next century." CBC compilers enter their count data via Audubon's website www.audubon.org/bird/cbc or Bird Studies Canada's homepage www.bsc-eoc.org, where the 104th Count results will be viewable in near real-time. Explore this information for the winter of 2003-2004 or visit a count from the past. See if and how the state of your local birds has changed during the last 25...50...or 100 years. Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based Audubon nature centers and chapters, environmental education programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences. # # # You are subscribed to Audubon-News. To unsubscribe, send email to audubon-news-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field. To adjust other settings (vacation, digest, etc.) please visit, http://www.freelists.org/list/audubon-news.