The Christmas bird census, an annual bird watcher tradition dating back to 1900, will look very different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A September message about counting compilers from the National Audubon Society gave compilers an opportunity to cancel their counts. For all compilers who have decided to abort, it says: “Audubon fully supports your decision to abort. The security of our compilers and community scientists will always be our number one priority. “
Geoff LeBaron, director of Christmas Bird Count at the National Audubon Society, says “a fair, but not overwhelming number of compilers are canceling their counts” this year. However, most compilers plan to keep their counts using COVID security logs.
“I had a lot of questions about whether it was still worth filing a low-hassle or low-coverage CBC and the answer to that is definitely yes,” says LeBaron. “Anything people can do can be put into the database.”
Audubon’s rules for COVID Safe CBCs do not require personal compilations such as potlucks, wearing masks and social distancing at all times on site, carpooling only between family members or social “pod” groups, and compliance with all current state and community groups COVID-19 Guidelines.
The CBC is a bird census conducted by a team of bird watchers within a 15 miles radius on a calendar day between December 14th and January 5th. Each compiler chooses a date (and a backup date in case of bad weather) and maintains its list of participants.
If your home is on an active counting circuit, you can participate by counting the birds in your yard on your local counting day and sending the data to your local compiler.
“I suspect we’ll see a higher than normal rate of feeder observers this season, but that’ll be fine too,” says LeBaron. “All of these kinds of things are taken into account in analysis because people also enter their effort data as well as the birds. Therefore, the value of the data that can be collected should still be okay. Indeed, it might be interesting to compare what happens to “regular” seasons this season and examine how less effort actually affects the results of the census. “
If you want to count on the spot or from home, visit the Join the CBC page on the Audubon website.
On this page you will find a link to a map of all active, expected counts in the 121st CBC. Clicking the icon in the center of each circle will bring up a pop-up with the compiler name, contact information, and estimated date or notice if the count has been canceled due to COVID.
You can also download the ArcGIS Explorer app for your smartphone. Type “121st Christmas Bird Count” in the search box to see a map with active counting circles, then zoom in on your location to find the number in your area.
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