Crowd Science to Count the Number of Birds

The Citizen Science survey, Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will take place from Dec. 14, 2011 to Jan. 5, 2012. Tens of thousands of volunteers throughout North America will brave winter weather to add a new layer to over a century of data, according to National Audubon Society.

“Audubon was a social network before the world ever heard the term,” notes David Yarnold, Audubon president & CEO. “Each December the buzz from our social network goes up a few decibels, as people with the knowledge and the passion for birds provide what no organization alone can.”

“It’s a globally recognized example of crowd-science,” says Gary Langham, Audubon’s chief scientist, who took his young daughter and wife on last year’s CBC. “Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count is also a tradition that does good things for families, communities, and the conservation movement.”

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore (which evolved into Audubon   magazine) suggested an alternative to the “side hunt,” in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most game, including birds. Chapman proposed that people “hunt” birds only to count them.

Last year’s count shattered records. A total of 2,215 counts and 62,624 people tallied over 60 million birds. Counts took place in all 50 states, all Canadian provinces, plus 107 count circles in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. 

The first ever CBC tally was submitted from Haiti, where the count circle is located at Les Cayes, the birthplace of John James Audubon. In Colombia, the Audubon count is a crucially important monitoring system of biodiversity in the country.

Now in its second century, Audubon connects people with birds, nature and the environment. Its national network of community-based nature centers, chapters, scientific, education, and advocacy programs engages people from all walks of life in conservation action to protect and restore the natural world.

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