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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Christmas Bird Count

<ck in the 19th century, Christmas day was the day of the “Side Hunt,” a friendly competition between hunters to shoot as many birds and small animals as they could. In 1900, Audubon Society ornithologist Frank Chapman brought a conservation-friendly alternative to the table: the first Christmas Bird Count (CBC).

In 1900, only 27 observers in 25 different Canadian and US locations participated. Since then, the bird count, organized by The National Audubon Society, has expanded to multiple weeks, with many groups of birders across North America embarking on the bird count every year from December 14 to January 5. Last year, over 70,000 birders at 2,400 sites contributed to the CBC, including volunteers at the Carleton Arboretum!

The CBC is a massive citizen science project, merging data from all over the country to produce crucial long-term information about bird health in North America. The Arb data, included as part of the Faribault region, is collected by community members, Carleton staff and students. While many birds are abundant in the Arb, including black-capped chickadees, European starlings and downy woodpeckers, the data collected is typically used by Audubon to look at population trends and identify species with perilous futures.

For example, in 2014, Audubon used CBC data and climate projections to forecast the distributions of different bird species. They concluded that 314 Northern American bird species will be climate endangered or threatened this century. A few Arboretum birds with projected range loss include Nashville warblers, American redstarts and wood ducks.

The CBC is also used to guide conservation solutions, including community education, advocacy efforts and development of bird-friendly communities. Spaces like the Arboretum provide critical habitats for our community’s birds. If you’re interested in getting involved, consider joining the Arb’s next bird count in the spring!

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