The holidays will soon be upon us, which means it’s time to gather with friends and family to celebrate the season. Perhaps you’d like to add another get-together to the schedule—the Bay Area Christmas Bird Counts (CBC), a tradition since the 1930s. Here’s how it works: Volunteers organize into teams to cover selected areas 15 miles in diameter over the course of a day, recording all birds seen or heard within their designated area. The teams are led by local experts as they search fields, shorelines, suburbs, and mountain trails for wintering birds. Other volunteers stay at home to count the birds that come to their feeders. At the end of the day, everyone reunites at an informal potluck dinner to tally the species spotted and to share stories. (As a bonus, you’ll undoubtedly learn about some good places to bird.) All the information collected is submitted to the National Audubon Society and made available to researchers studying bird population and distribution trends. Some birding skills are helpful, but even complete novices are welcome, as recorders are just as important as spotters to the success of the count. To learn more about a Christmas Bird Count taking place nearby, contact your local Audu-bon Society chapter. For a list of Bay Area chapters, check out www.audubon.org/states/ca.
Bay Nature magazine ◦ October-December 2002