Calling all citizen scientists: Missouri Department of Conservation seeking help with ‘Christmas Bird Count’

Bird watchers and citizen scientists are needed by the Missouri Department of Conversation for the National Audubon Society’s 124th Christmas Bird Count from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5, 2024.

The CBC is a yearly volunteer event involving participants from the U.S., Canada and various other global locations. Today, over 20 countries participate in the Western Hemisphere.

Experts analyze winter bird population data to understand long-term impacts, status and trends of species.

Each CBC participant is assigned a personal coordinator who gives volunteers a count circle with a 15-mile diameter. states that those organizing count circles have the responsibility of recruiting, training and guiding participants for the CBC, as well as summarizing and submitting data.

Anyone interested in becoming a compiler can read the frequently asked questions here

Before starting their hunt, participants must collaborate with circle compilers and count birds seen or heard over a 24-hour period. The CBC tally is not limited to a specific species, as it counts all birds throughout the day, providing a total count for the 24-hour period.

To become a volunteer, you only need a good pair of binoculars, your own transportation and weather-appropriate clothing.

Before the advent of the 20th century, hunters took to fields for a traditional Christmas bird hunt called “Side Hunt.” Scientists became alarmed by the declining bird population as conservation was still in its early stages. In 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman suggested counting birds instead of killing them as a new Christmas tradition; 26 conservationists launched the first CBC to encourage better conservation practices.

CBC data has been featured in a multitude of peer-reviewed publications, government reports, and analyses throughout the decades.

Since 2012, the hunt has been completely free and funded solely by donations. Audubon assists volunteers and compilers in managing their historic database and technology. To make a donation, visit this website.

If you can’t find time to join in on the fun of the CBC, you can sign up for the Great Backyard Bird Count organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Canada, and Audubon. The GBBC occurs every February during President’s Day weekend. Each day, participants can count birds in their yard or community and submit the results online. For more information about the GBBC, visit the Audubon’s website

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