Christmas Bird Count

CBC-LogoThe Christmas Bird Count 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 US, Canada and many countries in the Western Hemisphere, go out over a 24 hour period on one calendar day to count birds.

Since the Christmas Bird count began over a century ago, it has relied on the dedication and commitment of volunteers like you to gather data on winter bird populations.

When does the count happen?

All Christmas Bird Counts are conducted between December 14 to January 5 each season. Menunkatuck’s Guilford-Long Island Sound CBC will be on January 5, 2019.

How does participation work?

There is a specific methodology to the CBC, and all participants in the Guilford-Long Island Sound CBC must make arrangements to participate in advance with the CBC compiler, Tom Kelly, but anyone can participate. Register here.

Each count takes place in an established 15-mile diameter circle, and is organized by a count compiler. Count volunteers follow specified routes through the 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. 

If you are a beginning birder, you will be able to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher.

If your home is within the boundaries of our CBC circle, then you can stay at home and report the birds that visit your feeder on count day as long as you have made prior arrangement with Tom. You can register for participation here.

Guilford-Long Island Sound Christmas Bird Count Circle

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About the Christmas Bird Count

Can I just do my own CBC and send you my data? No. Since each CBC is a real census, and since the 15-mile diameter circle contains a lot of area to be covered, single-observer counts (except in unusual circumstances) cannot be allowed. To participate on the CBC you will need to join an existing CBC circle by contacting the compiler in advance of the count day.

As an alternative, you may be interested in getting involved in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) organized by Audubon with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It takes place President’s Day weekend each February and you can count the birds each day in your backyard/community and then enter the results online. For more information on the GBBC, visit the Audubon GBBC page.

The Menunkatuck CBC circle is squeezed between three existing circles.

The Menunkatuck CBC circle is squeezed between three existing circles.

Why does the Guilford-Long Island Sound Bird Count circle not encompass more of the land areas of Branford, Guilford, and Madison? The CBC protocol requires that the 15-mile diameter count circles not overlap. The New Haven, Quinnipiac Valley, and Old Lyme circles prevent another land-based 15-mile diameter circle. We decided that the benefits of having a CBC that is mostly in Long Island Sound outweigh the difficulty of surveying the Sound.

Learn more about the Christmas Bird Count at