Check off one more good deed for Santa Claus this holiday season by volunteering in the 121st annual Christmas Bird Count.
Families and friends across the Brazos River basin can join preservation efforts by counting birds during select times and dates between Dec. 14, 2020, and
Jan. 5, 2021. For more than a century, the count has relied on the dedication and commitment of volunteers for its success. Fill your favorite thermos with coffee, put on some long johns and join the adventure.
The National Audubon Society, a nonprofit conservation organization, uses science, advocacy, education and conservation to help protect birds’ future, according to the organization’s website. The data collected each year provides wildlife agencies and conservation biologists a vast array of information, painting a picture of how bird populations have changed in time and space. The data helps illuminate and identify environmental issues and necessary strategies to help protect the future for all birds.
The COVID-19 pandemic will have some effect on the count as it has most other things. Pending local restrictions, many counts will be done under COVID-19 guidelines sent to compilers, while others will be canceled.
There is a specific methodology for the event, and you don’t need experience to participate.
It goes like this.
Each designated area has a leader. And each group will include at least one experienced birdwatcher. Interested participants need to email the leader for their area to sign up. Think of it like a Census for birds.
Each count covers a 15-mile-wide circle and there are several along the Brazos River basin.
Some of the counts include locations in the upper Brazos basin including, Palo Pinto County, Abilene, and Lubbock. Some of the counts occurring in the Central Basin are in Waco, Belton, and Round Rock. Lots of counts are being held in the lower basin, including in Bryan-College Station, Lake Jackson, and West Columbia.
In 2018, there were a record-setting 2,615 count circles, with 1,975 counts in the United States, according to the organization.
“To date, over 300 peer-reviewed articles have resulted from analysis done with Christmas Bird Count data. Beyond the items listed here, CBC data has been used by U.S. federal agencies as an important basis for making decisions about birds.” - National Audubon Society
For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency has included CBC data as one of 26 indicators of climate change in their 2012 report, according to the National Audubon Society. In 2007, CBC data helped develop the Audubon’s Common Birds in Decline Report, which revealed that some of America's most beloved and familiar birds have taken a nosedive over the past 40 years, according to the society’s website.
A map view of the areas expected to be included in this year’s bird count is available here. For more information, go to the National Audubon Society website here.