The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) occurs December 14 to January 5 every year. The CBC is a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society, with over 100 years of community science involvement. It is an early-winter bird census, where thousands of volunteers across the U.S., Canada, and many countries in the Western Hemisphere go out over a 24-hour period on one calendar day to count birds. Scientists use the data to track the health of bird populations.
Each count takes place in an established 15-mile-wide diameter circle and is organized by a count compiler. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile (24-km) diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally—all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day.
A healthy bird population is important for insect control. Most backyard birds eat a combination of seeds, berries, and insects. In late spring and early summer, birds are busy filling the mouths of their hatchlings, and baby birds like nothing better than freshly caught bugs. That’s good news for gardeners, because garden pests are usually at their peak in late spring and early summer. Our bird friends can save us lots of headaches by combing our gardens for cabbage worms, whiteflies, aphids, earwigs, grasshoppers, cucumber beetles and grubs!