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Christmas Bird Count – 2014

The National Audubon Society has been sponsoring Christmas Bird Counts across North America for more than 100 years. The goals of the Christmas Bird Count are as follows: 1) engage citizens in gathering information; 2) empower citizens to take action on behalf of places important to them and important to wildlife; 3) foster a new culture of conservation. The longest running Citizen Science survey in the world, the Christmas Bird Count provides critical data on bird populations. Viewed in comparison with other long-term monitoring programs, such as the Breeding Bird Survey, Christmas Bird Count data helps to provide an understanding of bird population trends across North America in early winter. The count also provides an enjoyable social experience – tens of thousands of birdwatchers participate in this event each year.

How does the Christmas Bird Count work?

Common Redpoll by Eric Preston

Common Redpoll by Eric Preston

Volunteer Citizen Scientists gather information on bird numbers over a three-week period. Observers not only note each species they encounter during their time in the field, but also how many of each species they see and the time and mileage they spend counting birds. All observations are then submitted to a nationally based science staff and reviewed by a panel of regional experts. Data sets are available to the public and researchers for review and scientific study on the National Audubon website.

Christmas Bird Counts in Wisconsin

WSO helps to coordinate more than 100 Christmas Bird Count circles in Wisconsin. This year’s count will take place Dec 14, 2013 to January 5, 2014. Kyle Lindemer coordinates the Christmas Bird Counts in Wisconsin. Carl Schroeder  is the Wisconsin Editor for the National Audubon Christmas Bird Count. If interested to participate in a count, please see the map below and contact a compiler near you.

Compilers can update their information by emailing

Click here to view a complete alphabetical list of all Wisconsin’s Christmas Bird Counts and a larger map.

Christmas Bird Counts for Kids

Children have not always been accommodated in the traditional Christmas Bird Counts because of its rigorous nature. In recent years, however, there has been a movement to design Christmas Bird Counts for children. Tom Rusert of Sonoma Birding organized the first “CBC for Kids” for Sonoma County, CA in early 2008. This half-day count focused on kids 8-16 years old. In 2012, the Woodland Dunes Nature Center and Preserve conducted Wisconsin’s first Christmas Bird Count for Kids. The event attracted more than a dozen local children who were very motivated to learn about birds. For more information on the Woodland Dunes count, please read the November 2013 Badger Birder article. For those interested to start a local Christmas Bird Count for Kids event, the National Audubon Society provides the following tips:

Comfort is Key – Kids have small faces and hands, so they require binoculars that are easy to hold, can be adjusted to match the distance between their eyes, and allow them to easily reach the focus knob. The binoculars should be light enough to wear comfortably.

Keep Magnification Low – Don’t buy binoculars with more than 8x magnification; 6x is better. High magnification equals a narrow field of view and a shaky image, making binoculars harder to use—especially for kids.

Adjust to Fit – Spend a few minutes with your child adjusting the binoculars to match the distance between their eyes. If they don’t wear glasses, extend the eye cups; keep them retracted if they do wear glasses. Make sure that they can see a single image and are able to turn the focus knob easily.

Practice – Take your child to a pond or lake shore where they can look at waterfowl and/or wading birds, which are slow moving, big, and thus are more easily viewed through binoculars. Teach your child to first look at the bird without binoculars and to then bring the binoculars up to their eyes without looking away from the bird. Move on to smaller, faster birds when they seem ready. Teach your child to always wear the binocular strap around their neck.