Christmas Bird Count

The National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) originated in 1900. It began as an alternative to the Christmas Side Hunt where people went out to see how many birds they could kill on Christmas Day. A small group of conservation-minded individuals across the country decided it would be a better idea to simply count the living birds, and so began the longest-running citizen science effort in history.

CBCs have contributed an enormous amount of data on wintering populations of birds throughout North, Central, and South America, as well as selected Pacific islands. During a two-week period around Christmas, participants spend entire days in the field compiling bird numbers to add to the data bank. Counts are conducted regardless of weather conditions, which run the entire range of comfort levels for the individual counters, not to mention the birds. It’s always a fun experience and a great contribution to our knowledge of avian science and research.

The Bellingham CBC has been in operation without pause since 1967 and teams were beginning to assemble in early November. Even though most teams will be ready to go when you read this, you should feel free to contact the count coordinator, Doug Brown, at if you’re interested in participating. Since National Audubon has issued certain Covid-related restrictive criteria for this year’s count, teams will be pared down to individual counters or members of the same family groups. At this time, Doug might need experienced leaders or helpers for a few territories since there might be places to fill, so contact him for more info. This year’s CBC takes place on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020..

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