Christmas Bird Count, 2016

Seth’s work at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, with the Celebrate Urban Birds initiative helped us all get a close look at citizen science in action. Past Christmas counts since then have been an annual tradition in these pages. Thanks to Lisa Feldcamp for a note on this topic with her post Give Kids the Gift of Birding on The Nature Conservancy’s website Cool Green Science:

The annual Christmas Bird Count is one of birding’s most cherished traditions. This year, consider introducing the count to a child. There’s no better time to get a youngster started in birding.

“When I was a kid in a large family of eight kids in Upstate New York, my parents told us we could do anything that cost less than $5; baseball, boy scouts, or birding,” says Tom Rusert of Sonoma Birding. “I joined Junior Audubon with my brothers, not realizing it would be a life sport to enjoy forever. It really is no different than any other sport.”

So began a lifelong passion for birds and conservation for Russert. The Junior Audubon program flourished for thousands of kids in schools across the US starting in 1910 but died out in the 1970s, leaving a significant gap in children’s nature opportunities.

Rusert and his colleague Darren Peterie at Sonoma Birding and Bird Studies Canada, are giving this opportunity back to children through the Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids) with hundreds of half-day events across the US and Canada from December through mid -January. Each child must be accompanied by a parent or adult mentor.

Why Kids? Why Christmas?

People put their money where their heart is. Those who have childhood experiences in nature are more likely to support conservation.

“We reach out to families and kids during the holiday season when they’re often tied up with material goods,” Rusert explains. “There aren’t too many things that parents can do to really engage with their each other. Kids get into electronic devices and they’re gone. The CBC4Kids offers a refreshing old fashioned community based, fun experience”

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is one of the oldest ongoing citizen science projects in the US, a birding tradition that began on December 25, 1900 as a holiday Christmas Bird Census. The long-term data over a wide-ranging area now available from these counts has provided vital information for conservation science, from uncovering declines in common birds to revealing where birds have moved in response to climate change

Read the whole post here.

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