This holiday season marks the 118th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, a tradition among Vermont’s birding community. The counts has begun and runs through Jan. 5 each year.
Each event is led by an experienced birder, so novice birdwatchers are welcome to participate. Organizers and participants include birders and biologists from Audubon Vermont, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, and many other groups.
In Vermont, more than a dozen count areas and dates are available where birders gather together to conduct the Christmas Bird Count.
“The Christmas Bird Count is one of the longest-running citizen science projects in the country and possibly in the world,” said Mark LaBarr, conservation program manager for Audubon Vermont. “Not only does it provide important data for scientists, but it’s also a great time for folks who participate.”
The holiday count originated in 1900 with ornithologist Frank Chapman, an officer in the Audubon Society. Traditionally, it had been a hunting trip, but Chapman changed it into a census of the wintering locations of various bird species. Its first year just 27 observers joined in and since then it’s grown into one of the largest birding events in the world, with tens of thousands of people participating every year.
“This is an enjoyable way to spend a winter day and it’s also a great opportunity to see different birds and learn more about them,” said John Buck, wildlife biologist. “It’s also a great opportunity to enjoy the company of fellow birders, and for birders of all levels to learn something new.”
Details on counting times, dates and locations are available online at: vt.audubon.org/audubon-christmas-bird-count-0.