Christmas Bird Count Outdoor Introduction


RTPI will offer an outdoor introduction to the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, December 18 at 9:00 AM at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s 27 acre sanctuary, 311 Curtis Street, Jamestown.

On this free outdoor foray, experienced RTPI bird guides will lead a search for our fine feathered friends while discussing the why’s and wherefore’s of the 122 year old Christmas Bird Count survey.

In 1900, Frank Chapman, editor of Bird Lore (forerunner of Audubon magazine), whimsically urged people to go out and count birds on Christmas Day. The foray was intended as a civil alternative to the then-traditional “side hunt”, where teams (“sides”) vied to shoot the greatest number of furred and feathered creatures possible on Christmas Day. Anything that moved was fair game, the winning team commended in popular sportsmen’s magazines of the time. Happy holidays!

What do you find on a Christmas Bird Count? For contrast, at Prudhoe Bay in 1994 only 1 species of bird (a group of Common Ravens) was spotted by truck light in the darkness of a winter’s mid-day, but in 2007, 425 bird species were found in a circle in the Andes.

In Chautauqua County, you could expect to log anywhere from 40 to 80 different species numbering many thousands of birds during the appointed count period. That’s the beguiling thing about birding…you just never know.

Good data is the lifeblood of sound wildlife management planning. The more, the better. And over 121 years, Christmas Bird Count data has become a gold mine for professionals studying winter bird distribution and abundance.

This outdoor program is open to the public free of charge. Participants must wear a mask and should dress for walking along the Institute’s gentle trails. No registration is required. Field glasses, while helpful, are not necessary. The event dove-tails nicely with RTPI’s special events including an art fair, photography exhibition and lively holiday activities, which will be open to the public once our walk wraps up.

For more information, call the RTPI at 716-665-2473.