The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a census of birds in the Western Hemisphere, performed by volunteer birdwatchers and administered by the National Audubon Society. The purpose is to provide population data for use in science, especially conservation biology, though many people participate for recreation.
Up through the 19th century, many North Americans participated in the tradition of Christmas "side hunts", in which they competed to see how many birds they could kill, regardless of whether they would use the meat or whether the birds were beneficial, beautiful, or rare. In December 1900, the U.S. ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed counting birds on Christmas instead of killing them. Since then the counts have been held every winter, usually with increasing numbers of observers. Participation is open to all and is free.
Each individual count is performed in a "count circle" with a diameter of 15 miles. At least ten volunteers break up into small parties and follow assigned routes, which change little from year to year, counting every bird they see. In most count circles, some people also watch feeders instead of following routes.
The results are by no means as accurate as a human census. Not all the area even in the count circles is covered, and not every bird along the routes is seen or identified. Big flocks can't be counted precisely. Regardless the information provided helps scientists study the trends in populations and better define the edges of their winter ranges.
The Darke County Birders Club in conjunction with the Darke Countians for Wildlife Conservation will be participating in the annual event on Sunday December 18 and will meet at North McDonalds in Greenville at 7:30am for location assignments. For more information about the Christmas Bird Count visit the National Audubon Society website at http://www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count, and for questions or to help out with this year’s Darke County count, contact Bob Welch with Darke Countians for Wildlife Conservation at (937) 423-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.