Each winter, tens of thousands of volunteers head outside with binoculars to count and identify birds in their communities. They’re taking part in the Christmas Bird Count, a National Audubon Society program now in its 120th year.

Brooke Bateman, a senior scientist at Audubon, says this annual census provides important data about how bird populations are changing over time.

“The science that I do around climate change would not exist without the people that go out and do community science and collect data for birds across the country,” she says.

Data from the Christmas Bird Count is used by Audubon, the EPA, and other organizations studying how bird habitats are shifting in response to the changing climate.

But the bird count is more than a way to gather data. For many, it’s a beloved annual tradition.

“I come from a family of birders,” Bateman says. “My grandmother was a birder. My father feeds his birds at his feeder, and my daughter, she loves birds, too.”

“I still remember when my daughter was able to find a chickadee, a black capped chickadee, and get it added to the list of birds that we had seen on that particular count,” Bateman says. “She was four at the time, and it just was really exciting to share that with her.”

So the event provides a way for bird lovers to get outside and help advance science.

embed code image

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Species & Ecosystems