Audubon's Christmas Bird Count, an annual tradition that excites families, communities, and the conservation movement, is here again. The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world. The tradition began 115 years ago and is a long-standing program of Audubon, including in Montana.
Erick Greene, Missoula's CBC
The CBC is an early-winter bird census, where volunteers count every bird they see or hear during one day in a designated 15-mile diameter circle.
This year's CBC will be conducted between December 14, 2014 and January 5, 2015. Details about exactly where, when and how to participate will be posted below.
These counts have proven incredibly valuable for what they tell scientists -- and all of us -- about our changing world. To learn more about climate change and early winter birds, trends based on 40 years of CBC data, see Ecological Disruption in Motion.
How to Participate:
All Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) are open to the public. The following information will help you learn how to participate this year:
Note that the following has yet to be updated for the 2014-15 count year - check back in November for new information.
A Few Facts about Montana Christmas Bird Count (2012-13 results):
There were 32 different Christmas Bird Counts in 2012-13. Missoula had the most participants on their count last year, with 113 observers; most of Montana's counts had fewer than 20 observers (20 of 32 counts). In previous years more than 600 observers have participated in counts throughout Montana.
Photo by Bob Martinka.
There were 37 count "firsts" established in 2012-13, with Missoula having two state-first records: Swainson's Thrush (pictured right) and Lesser Goldfinch. The Fort Peck count also had a state-first: a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Other count firsts included a Cackling Goose and Spotted Sandpiper in Bigfork, a Pied-billed Grebe in Bozeman, 2 American Dippers at Musselshell Valley (Roundup), and Hoary Redpolls on several counts.
For the first time, in 2012-13, five counts reported 80 or more species: Stevensville saw the most species - 89 total; Bigfork tallied 88, Missoula recorded
87, Kalispell saw 83, and Ninepipe NWR recorded 80.
Snowy Owls had had a respectable year, with 11 birds counted on 4 counts.
The most abundant species statewide in 2012-13 was Canada Geese, with 67,041 individuals recorded on 26 (of 32) counts.
Trumpeter Swans (274 on 5 counts) outnumbered Tundra Swans (182 on 7 counts).
Total number of species seen in Montana CBCs (cumulative list as of 2012-13): 210 species, with 3 new species added last year.
First Montana count: Bozeman in 1908. Our youngest count: the Big Hole count started in 2008. The most Christmas Bird Counts have been conducted in both Billings and Bozeman, with 56 Christmas Bird Counts each.
Thanks to Dan Casey of Flathead Audubon for compiling these results for American Birds!