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Christmas Bird Counts

The Audubon Society and its countrywide chapters organizes and conducts an annual Christmas Bird Count across the country (including Canada) during the Holiday Season. This event started in the year 1900 because prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas “Side Hunt.” That is, they would choose sides (teams) and go afield with their guns, and whichever “side” brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.

Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the then-nascent Audubon Society (the Society officially came into being in 1905), proposed a new holiday tradition – a “Christmas Bird Census” that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.

So began the Christmas Bird Count. Thanks to the inspiration of Chapman and the enthusiasm of 27 dedicated birders, 25 Christmas Bird Counts were held that day. The locations ranged from Toronto, Ontario to Pacific Grove, California with most counts in or near the population centers of northeastern North America. Those original 27 Christmas Bird Counters tallied around 90 species on all the counts combined.

This year the Central Sierra Chapter sponsors and supports three different Christmas Bird Counts, the first one in Tuolumne County, the Sonora CBC will be on Saturday, December 14, the second, Groveland CBC, will be on Monday, December 16, and one in Calaveras County, the Calaveras CBC to be held on Saturday, December 28, 2019. Started in 1985 with about eight people, we now field over 40 intrepid enthusiasts each year to count our avian population. The Groveland CBC, was originally established by Bill Zachman in 2007.  Unfortunately, Bill is not able to continue the count, but CSAS will continue the count. These counts are three of over 2300 worldwide.

Each count is conducted within a 15-mile diameter circle. The circle is divided into smaller sectors covered by teams of observers, usually made up of 2 to 10 birders. Both experienced and novice birders are included in each team. This provides excellent mentoring while gathering meaningful scientific data on a national and even international scale. At the end of each count day a potluck supper is held somewhere near the count circle area. It’s a great time for socializing and recapping the day’s efforts.

Click on the links below to find out more about each count circle sponsored by Central Sierra Audubon.

Sonora Area CBC—Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019

Contact: Steven Umland at stevenum71@gmail.com

Groveland CBC—Monday, Dec. 16, 2019

Contact: Steven Umland at stevenum71@gmail.com

Feeder Watchers also Needed for Sonora Area CBC

For those of you who cannot get out in the field on December 19th, you can stay in the comfort and warmth of our own home and tally the birds that come into your yard and/or feeders, and then send the results to me. If you can do that, email me at stevenum71@gmail.com and I’ll send you flexible guidelines.

Calaveras County CBC— Saturday, Dec 28, 2019

Contact: Keith & Sandra Maurer at kandsmaurer@goldrush.com