Pandemic will have huge impact on 121-year Christmas bird count

Some local components of the National Audubon Society’s Christmas bird count will be canceled this year, but most will continue with pandemic-related changes in the way they do their local bird counting.

The main compilers in most of the 15-mile-diameter circles – the local components, in which local volunteers count – plan to continue their pieces of the 121-year-old tradition, which this year will begin on Monday the 14th. December. , Tuesday January 5. Local compilers pick just one day within this timeframe to run their local effort.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will affect CBC’s participation,” Audubon noted on its official CBC website. “Pending local restrictions, many counts will be made according to COVID-19 guidelines sent to compilers, while others will likely be canceled.”

In a September email to count compilers, Audubon gave compilers the option to cancel their local counts, as well as a list of coronavirus restrictions for those who choose to continue their counts.

These restrictions included carpooling for enumeration only with family members or in small social groups who have previously interacted personally, a ban on traditional social aspects of local CBCs, including potlucks at the end of the day, masks and social distancing requirements; and a warrant to count according to national and local pandemic guidelines.

According to Geoff LeBaron, director of the CBC, “a fair but not overwhelming number of compilers are canceling their counts” for 2020.

Most plan to keep their counts within coronavirus guidelines.

In a typical year, there are about 90 circles across Pennsylvania. There is no final statement for 2020.

The SRC is one of the oldest censuses of wildlife. It is one of two large pools of information that exists informing bird watchers and conservation biologists of the growing conservation needs.

When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, the CBC provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed over time and space over the past hundred years. .

The long-term perspective is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies for protecting birds and their habitat, and helps identify environmental issues with implications for humans as well.

For example, last year Science published a study using decades of CBC data to describe the grim picture of a steady decline of nearly 3 billion North American birds since 1970, mostly due to human activities. .

CBC data has been used in over 300 peer-reviewed articles.

According to Audubon, last year’s CBC included 2,646 count circles, which was up from the 119th count, then a record 2,616. The counts involved 81,601 observers in total – 71,040 in the field and 10 561 observers at the start, which was also an increase compared to the 79,000 counters of the 119th count. Of the 2,646 counts, 469 were from Canada, 1,992 from the United States and 185 from Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands.

It was the 10th consecutive year of record counts.

The CBC began on Christmas Day 1900, when Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore (forerunner of Audubon magazine), came up with a new holiday tradition that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.

Conservation was in its infancy at this time and many observers and scientists were beginning to worry about declining bird populations.

For more information, including opportunities still available to participate in this year’s count, visit the Christmas Bird Count website.

Contact Marcus Schneck at [email protected].


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