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San-Cap Audubon to conduct Christmas Bird Count

By SAN-CAP AUDUBON - | Dec 3, 2020

RICK BUNTING Indigo bunting

The Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society will conduct its annual Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 19.

The results of the local count will be forwarded to the National Audubon Society for inclusion in the 121st National Christmas Bird Count. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, social distancing and masks will be required for all participants in the field.

More than 50,000 observers participate each year in the census of early-winter bird populations. The results of their efforts are compiled into the longest running database in ornithology, representing over a century of unbroken data on trends of early-winter bird populations across the Americas.

Prior to the turn of the 20th century, people engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas “Side Hunt.” They would choose sides and go into the field with their guns; whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered — and furred — quarry won. Conservation was in its infancy at the turn of the century, and observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations.

Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman — an early officer in the then-budding Audubon Society — proposed a new holiday tradition: a “Christmas Bird census” that would count birds in the holidays rather than hunt them. So began the Christmas Bird Count or CBC.

RICK BUNTING Pileated woodpecker

Thanks to the inspiration of Chapman and the enthusiasm of 27 dedicated birders, 25 counts were held that day. The locations ranged from Toronto, Ontario, to Pacific Grove, California, with most counts in or near the populations centers in northeastern North America. They tallied a total of 90 species on the combined counts. In comparison, the San-Cap CBC has averaged over 100 species for the last 30 years.

Those interested in participating on Dec. 19 can call 239-395-1878 for more information.

Birding skills are desirable, but not necessary.