Count our feathered friends and help ensure their future

Birders at an Audubon Christmas Bird Count in an earlier age.

Spend the morning in the fields at a Metro Park with birds and birders this December and start a new holiday tradition as you take part in the 118th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Counts will be held on Dec 16 at 8am at Inniswood, Dec 16 at 9am at Highbanks, Dec 16 at 10am at Sharon Woods and Dec 31 at 8:30am at Glacier Ridge.

Participation in all counts is free and all are welcome regardless of birding experience. Your participation will help ensure the future of these winged creatures that bring us such joy.

A Wilson’s snipe was a rare winter find at the 2016 CBC. (Adam Brandemihl)

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count, a tradition first proposed by ornithologist Frank M. Chapman on Christmas Day 1900, was created as a counter to the Christmas “side hunt.”

Up through the 19th century, many North Americans participated in the tradition of Christmas “side hunts,” in which they competed at how many birds they could kill, regardless of whether they had any use for the carcasses and whether the birds were beneficial, beautiful, or rare. In December 1900, the U.S. ornithologist Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore (which became Audubon magazine), proposed counting birds on Christmas instead of killing them.

Twenty-seven observers took part in the first CBC in 25 places in the United States and Canada.

Today, the Christmas Bird Count is conducted across North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Pacific Islands and is the nation’s largest citizen-science bird project. The 2017 CBC was a record year with 2,536 counts (447 in Canada, 1,933 in the United States and 156 in Latin America, the Caribbean and Pacific Islands).

The data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America.

Local area Christmas Bird Count leader, Rob Thorn, reports that 2016 will go down in Count lore as the year of the sandhill cranes. A dramatic cold front on the day pushed through many more of these grand birds than could be expected. Six different count teams saw fly-overs, with a total of 267 sandhill cranes, smashing all previous sightings in the Central Ohio CBC. The Scioto Audubon-Berliner team also saw a rare wintertime Wilson’s snipe. See all the results of last year’s counts and more information about Audubon

We hope to see you in the field!

Sandhill cranes were the stars of the 2016 CBC in Central Ohio, with more seen than in any previous count. (Dan Ferrin)