Did you know? In 1900, as an alternative to the "side hunt," in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most game (including birds), the Audobon Society began a Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Birds "hunted" during the CBC were identified, counted and recorded. For the past 109 years, braving cold temperatures and snowy conditions, volunteers in "binocular brigades" recorded bird counts in winter, before spring migration.
Through the information gathered during this annual event, birds urgently needing conservation assistance were identified and helped. Over the years, the data has also documented the comeback of once-endangered birds, the impact of climate change, and informed the protection of birds and our environment.
As I read about the bird count, I could envision my perfect Christmas morning. Perhaps a light snow is falling. I am snuggled in warm jammies in a comfy chair aimed at our bird feeders. The steaming hot cup (cider, coffee or tea) I'm holding warms my hands. The children are playing quietly with their Christmas presents. Hubby is reading the paper. As I put the cup down, I reach for a notebook and pen and join the Christmas Bird Counters in recording the Junkos, Chickadees, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and...hmm...grab my book to identify...I can never remember what kind of bird that is.
It's a nice thought, eh? The reality is that there are no local counts scheduled in Rhode Island (and the children will be too excited to be quiet...or eat breakfast, and we'll be trying to rush off to a family gathering).
Perhaps a birdwatcher reading this will be interested enough in the bird ount to create a local Christmas Bird Count in Rhode Island. Counts are scheduled this year between December 14th and Jan. 5th. You can join one of the dozen counts in Connecticut or Massachusetts. Click on this link for information or to sign up: www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/getinvolved.html.
A better reality: Since Christmas is just around the corner, and the snow has begun to fall. On Christmas morning, once the presents have been exchanged, I encourage you to pause. Look outside at the birds. Watch them, enjoy their antics, and be thankful for the moment.
If you are interested in attracting more birds to your yard, here are links to previous bird feeding articles:
For over 20 years I have been sharing my passion for plants and gardening by operating a retail garden center and offering some of my favorite plant varieties to everyone who happens to stop by. I have enjoyed meeting many different people over the years and there are many that I now consider dear friends.