Winter is time to count birds

Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation by Noppadol Paothong.

Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation by Noppadol Paothong.

Missouri was among the first states to do a Christmas bird count in 1900. This year, the tradition continues and birders are needed.

The Missouri Department of Conservation recently told the story in an article by Sarah Kendrick and Brad Jacobs. Among the highlights:

Populations of birds and other wildlife were declining fast in 1900 as people killed them unchecked, including some researchers who did it to count them.

Frank Chapman, an ornithologist and first to write and publish a bird field guide, started the first Christmas bird count.

Missouri, a dozen other states and two Canadian provinces started it with 25 counts.

Last winter, volunteers did 2,459 bird count surveys nationwide. By now the Christmas count is the longest-running citizen-science effort in the United States and has spread to many other countries.

The National Audubon Society recruits volunteer birders for the count on a single day between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.

Volunteers range from experts to relative novices and cover a 15-mile diameter circle, with 27 such counts in Missouri.

The long hours in cold weather bonds birders, the article states. “You’ll find out what birding is all about.”

Join the Christmas bird count

Those less dedicated can also serve in the Great Backyard Bird Count between Feb. 12-15.

You can count birds in your backyard, property or anywhere for a minimum count time of only 15 minutes.


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