‘Tis the Season for Counting Birds!

What screams holiday cheer more than Christmas Bird Count? In the minds of most birders – almost nothing! Christmas Bird Count is the nation\’s longest-running community science bird project and is in its 121st year! Each year, between December 14 and January 5, volunteers numbering in the thousands brave the weather around the U.S. to count birds! The National Audubon Society and many other organizations use the data collected by these community scientists to assess the health of bird populations, and to help guide conservation actions! It is also a great time for birders and nature-lovers alike to get outside for a dedicated day of birding! 

Though 2020 has been a strange year, many CBCs are still happening across the country, with some adjustments. Some CBCs, for example, have switched to only counts by feeder-watchers. Others are still surveying as normal, but in much smaller and more spread out groups. 

The purpose of the feeder watcher program is to determine the highest number of each species seen on feeders and the area around your feeding station as long as those yards are within the CBC’s area circle. A complete feeder watch observation has two parts: The checklist (which is a list of the highest number of each bird species seen); and effort (which is the time spent watching and counting and the number of observers in the household that contributed).

The Upper Texas Coast has 25 different Christmas Bird Counts you can participate in! We kicked off the CBC season in our region on December 14 with the Central Houston Christmas Bird Count – a survey of very urban habitat that still manages to provide over 100 species each year! 

Highlights from the Central Houston Christmas Bird Count included a well-behaved Northern Parula, a Winter Wren showing off for observers, a very late Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and HUGE flocks of Sandhill Cranes flying overhead! Some exciting and unusual species for this area included a Black-throated Green Warbler, a Least Grebe, an Indigo Bunting, a Grasshopper Sparrow, and a Horned Lark! Results from the Central Houston CBC always prove just how much of a Bird City Houston really is, even in its most urban areas! 

Want to get your Christmas Bird Count on? There are still several counts along the Upper Texas Coast coming up, including: 

  • Old River (12/27)
  • Trinity River (12/29)
  • Cypress Creek-Katy Prairie (1/1)
  • Brazoria-Columbia Bottomlands (1/2)
  • Galveston West End (1/4)

Click here for more information on each of these counts. 

Merry Christmas Bird Count to you all! 

By Anna Vallery, Conservation Specialist, Houston Audubon

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