[audubon-news] Audubon Announces 104th Christmas Bird Count

  • From: "BIANCHI, John" <JBIANCHI@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <audubon-news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 21 Oct 2003 11:44:29 -0400

Contact: John Bianchi


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.

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