The Franklin Bird Club will participate in its second Audubon Christmas Bird Count on Jan. 4, and welcomes participation from the public. The group will be joining 60,000 other volunteers in the count that began in 1900 when Dr. Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore (which evolved into Audubon magazine) suggested an alternative to the holiday “side hunt,” in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most small game, including birds. Chapman proposed that people count birds instead.
The Christmas Bird Count has become an important Citizen Science project. “This is not just about counting birds,” says Gary Langham, Audubon’s chief scientist. “Data from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count are at the heart of hundreds of peerreviewed scientific studies and informed decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of the Interior, and the EPA. Because birds are early indicators of environmental threats to habitats we share, this is a vital survey of North America and, increasingly, the Western Hemisphere.”