The National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count

Northern cardinal in winter

Northern cardinal

Photo Credit: Joe Stinnett, St. Paul Audubon Society member

From December 14 through January 5, tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas take part in an adventure that has become a family tradition among generations.

Sign up for the 2011 Christmas Bird Count

Check out the December 2011 Cardinal for more information, including how to register for this event.

General Infomation

Families and students, birders and scientists, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists go out on an annual mission – often before dawn. For over one hundred years, the desire to both make a difference and to experience the beauty of nature has driven dedicated people to leave the comfort of a warm house during the Holiday season.

Each of the citizen scientists who annually braves snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count makes an enormous contribution to conservation. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations – and to help guide conservation action.

From feeder-watchers and field observers to count compilers and regional editors, everyone who takes part in the Christmas Bird Count does it for love of birds and the excitement of friendly competition — and with the knowledge that their efforts are making a difference for science and bird conservation.
Make your plans now to participate in the 110th Christmas Bird Count.

How CBC protects birds and their habitat

The data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists, and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.

The long term perspective made possible by the Christmas Bird Count is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to protect birds and their habitat – and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well. For example, local trends in bird populations can indicate habitat fragmentation or signal an immediate environmental threat, such as groundwater contamination or poisoning from improper use of pesticides.

The St. Paul CBC

The St. Paul Audubon Society organizes and conducts the St. Paul (North) CBC. (There have been other St. Paul CBCs that are now discontinued.) We commonly refer to our count simply as the St. Paul CBC, but be aware that there is also a St. Paul (NE Suburban) CBC. The first St. Paul (North) CBC was conducted in 1944.

Every CBC takes place within a circle, 15 miles in diameter, that has been registered with the National Audubon Society. The center of the St. Paul circle is the intersection of County Road B and Dale Street, in Roseville.

We divide our circle into areas, and assign a team to each area. The designated team leader reports the day’s bird sightings to the CBC compiler.

The goal of each team is to count every bird in the team’s area—the number of species and the number of individual birds of each species. But we encourage participants to have a safe and enjoyable experience, knowing that it is not possible to find every bird. Each team decides when to begin the day’s count, and how long to remain in the field. Some teams begin by listening and calling for owls before dawn.

We also recruit observers who live within the circle to watch their feeders on the day of the count. Feeder watchers usually observe a species or two that are not found by the teams in the field.

It is our tradition to gather for a pot-luck dinner and tally party at the end of the day, where we swap stories about the day’s adventures.

We conduct the St. Paul CBC on the first Saturday that falls within the period designated by the National Audubon Society, (December 14th or later).

The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union maintains a Christmas Bird Count website, where you can find information about all of the Minnesota CBCs. Look for the “Join a CBC” link, and find the CBC of your choice. There you will find the compiler’s name and contact information.

Make your plans now to participate in the 110th Christmas Bird Count.

We need birders of all skill levels to make the most of this premier citizen science event. Our count circle extends 7.5 miles in all directions from the intersection of County Road B and Dale Street.

You can join a team in the field or keep an eye on your feeders at home (if you’re within the circle). A small fee is collected from all adult field participants to help defray the costs of the data collection and analysis.