The annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count used to be a killing bird contest until 1900 when people concluded that they could count birds without killing them.
Since then, the volunteers have gathered every year to keep track of the well-being of hundreds of species of birds across the United States. For instance, over thirty bird counts are scheduled this year in Idaho.
The officials have developed various programs to educate birders about the birding trends and how to better spot and understand many species of birds. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count lasts between December 14th and January 5th.
The birders are divided into many groups, each surveying a 15-mile-diameter circle. After 116 years, the organization has developed a comprehensive database with vital information about the birds living across the country as well as the migratory ones.
The 2016 Audubon Christmas Bird Count has set a new record with 76,669 volunteers who decided to bring their contribution. The participants are divided into 2,505 groups across Bermuda, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and North America.
Until now, the count includes 58.9 million birds, with ten million lower than the last year’s record of 68.8 million birds. However, this year’s count covers 2,607 bird species which account for 25 percent of the avifauna worldwide.
In 2015, El Niño had a devastating impact on the northwestern areas of the Pacific Ocean, as the warm water temperatures damaged the food source for marine species and led to a massive die-off among seabirds.
It is worth mentioning that the common murre population plummeted. Due to the storms, birders weren’t able to get close to the birds and count them. Although the birders in the Inland Northwest might face harsh weather conditions this month, they are determined to help biologists by counting as many birds as possible.
According to Gary Blevins, a biology professor and member of Spokane Audubon, over the past decades, the experts accounted for various factors which might influence the overall bird population. For instance, the numbers of the white-breasted nuthatch have been declining based on the annual Spokane count.
Fortunately, the populations of pygmy and red-breasted nuthatches are stable, meaning that they successfully adapted to the urban environment. Volunteers hope that this year’s Audubon Christmas Bird Count will set a new record.
Image Source: Wikipedia