Dec. 31 Island Christmas Bird Count: Become a Citizen Scientist

December 28, 2011 0 Comments

written by: Kathryn True

Whether you’re an avid birder or a beginner who’d like to learn more about birds, it’s not too late to sign up for the Christmas Bird Count (CBC), an annual tradition shared by birders across the continent. Join expert island birders in raising their binoculars to scour the beaches and forests of Vashon and Maury to record every bird they can see (and hear) in a 24-hour period. The resulting species tallies provide essential data used by the National Audubon Society to help protect bird species and their habitat.

A killdeer and a Western Snipe seen on previous CBC counts on Vashon. photo by: Richard Rogers.

How to participate

Here’s your official invitation from the Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society:

The Vashon Christmas Bird Count is coming up Saturday December 31 and you can participate in two ways: 

 1. Count birds on your property or at your feeder.

 2. Join one of the roving teams that hit the various hot spots.


Contact your team leader from last year's count or call Sue Trevathan, the CBC coordinator, at 463-1484 or email at to let her know how you would like to participate. Our chapter will pay all fees this year for participants.


The CBC includes all of the birds we see or hear that day plus Count Week species that are seen or heard three days on either side of Count Day but not on Count Day itself. 


Please join us for refreshments at the Land Trust building after the count.  Doors should be open around 4:30-5:00.


Pray to your local weather gods for good weather on the 31st!


A little history

In 1900, Frank Chapman, a member of a nascent Audubon Society, proposed an alternative to the traditional Christmas “side hunt”—a competition in which participants divided into teams and shot as many birds as possible. The winning “side” bundled home the most bounty. Chapman’s idea was to continue the friendly competition, but to tally the birds with pens and paper rather than bullets. In their wildest dreams, the original 27 volunteers could not have foreseen the popularity of this now global event.

Today, more than 60,000 participants from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies and Pacific islands count and record every individual bird and bird species seen during one calendar day. The goal of each group is to census as much ground as possible in a designated circle 15 miles in diameter—about 177 square miles. More than 2,000 count circles are tallied worldwide. Here’s a map of our local count circle.

The best way to become a better birder is to bird with those in the know. Join us on the island CBC and start a new holiday tradition!


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