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WCAS News101st Christmas Bird Count
Lou Beck

101st Christmas Bird Count
Lou Beck

National Audubon Society urges volunteers in central New Jersey to participate in one of Audubon's great traditions, the annual Christmas Bird Count. WCAS sponsors both the Princeton Count, which this year will be held on Sunday, December 17, and the Trenton Count, to be held this year on Saturday, December 30.

This year marks the 101st anniversary of the Christmas Bird Count, and the beginning of the second century, since 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by ornithologist Frank Chapman, changed the course of history. On Christmas Day 1900, the group initiated an alternative to the traditional holiday 'side hunt,' in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds. Instead of hunting, the group counted the birds they saw and founded a century-old institution.

Today, over 50,000 volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Pacific islands will count and record every individual bird and bird species encountered during one calendar day. About 1800 individual Christmas Bird Counts will be held during a two-and-a-half week period. Each count group has a designated circle 15 miles in diameter - about 177 square miles - where they try to cover as much ground as possible within a 24-hour calendar day.

This year marks the first season that Bird Studies Canada is the Canadian partner in the Christmas Bird Count. The designated Christmas Bird Count compilers for each count will enter their data on-line via through Bird Studies Canada's homepage or through BirdSource , where the 101st Count results will be viewable in near real-time. For those without access to the web, paper forms may be returned to National Audubon and Bird Studies Canada for on-line data entry by ornithology staff.

Christmas Bird Count serves as an up-to-the-minute bird census. Counters catalogue every bird and bird species they see over one calendar day, from midnight to midnight. Growing in popularity since its inception, the count serves an important scientific function as well. Birds are one of the first groups of animals to be affected by environmental threats like pollution and habitat destruction, and CBC data provide indispensable information, not only on long-term health of bird populations, but also the status of the environment that birds share with all living things.

Apart from its attraction as a social, sporting, and competitive event, the annual count reveals interesting and scientifically useful information on the early-winter distribution patterns of various bird species and the over-all health of the environment.

The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running ornithological database. As we begin the second century of the Count, it continues to grow in importance as a means to monitor the status of resident and migratory bird populations across the western hemisphere. The CBC is 100% volunteer generated data that, over the years, has become a crucial part of the United States Government's natural history monitoring database. Count data from 1900 to the present are currently available through BirdSource <www.birdsource.org>, a cooperative project of the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

All counts are open to birders of all skill levels. For more information, contact

Princeton:

Lou Beck
7 W. Franklin Ave., Pennington, NJ 08534
609 737-0070, louisloubeck@aol.com

Laurie Larson
142 Moore St., Princeton, NJ 08540
no phone, llarson@princeton.edu

Trenton:

Mary E. Doscher
147 Gary Drive, Trenton, NJ 08690
609 586-3185, doscherm@dellnet.com

Brad Merritt
P.O. Box 178, Rocky Hill, NJ 08553
609-921-8964, balmerritt@aol.com

 

 

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Last revision: Monday, November 27, 2000 - 09:49 PM