Christmas Bird Counts

Welcome to our 2013 Christmas Bird Counts!

Birders of all skill levels and experience are invited to join us for this fun annual event. 

The Oakland count will take place on Sunday December 15The San Francisco count will take place on Friday December 27. Registration has now closed for both counts.  If you signed up, you will be contacted by your area leader during the week before the count. 

We need volunteers to help set up and run the dinners! Can you help? As thanks, you’ll get free admission to the dinner. Sign up to volunteer online or email Noreen at

Dinner Details:

The Oakland dinner will take place at Northbrae Community Church, at 941 The Alameda in North Berkeley (between Marin and Solano) beginning at 5 pm.

The San Francisco dinner will take place at the Presidio Log Cabin, 1299 Storey Avenue in the Presidio, beginning at 5 pm. Don’t get lost! You can find driving directions here.

The Oakland dinner is a choice of either Braised Chicken in a white wine sauce with root vegetables over brown rice, OR Moroccan Spiced Couscous with roasted winter vegetables and fresh herbs. Both options include salad and brownies. Thank you to the Westside Bakery Cafe for catering!

The San Francisco dinner is a choice of Chicken and Beef Shish Kebabs OR Vegetarian Moussaka. Both options include hummus with pita triangles, Greek salad, and tsatsiki with spicy sauce on the side. Thank you to Hayes & Kebab restaurant for catering!

About the Christmas Bird Counts

Every December,  hundreds of Bay Area birders take part in Golden Gate Audubon’s Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) in Oakland and San Francisco. From before dawn until dusk, they trek through parks, neighborhoods, and wetlands, venture out in boats on the bay, and skirt reservoirs and bayside mudflats to identify the species and count the numbers of birds at every site.

Annual Christmas Bird Counts, sponsored by the National Audubon Society and conducted by volunteers, are held throughout the U.S. The counts attempt to record every individual bird encountered within a defined 15-mile diameter—about 177 square miles—during one calendar day. The counts began on December 25, 1900, when a small group of bird lovers, led by scientist Frank Chapman, posed an alternative to the “side hunt,” in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals. Chapman’s group identified, counted, and recorded all the birds they saw, thus founding a conservation effort that has grown exponentially over the last century.  This season marks the 112th year of Christmas Bird Counts.

Each count attempts to identify and tally the birds within a defined 15-mile-diameter circle during one calendar day. Last year, thousands of volunteers counted roughly 60 million birds across the Americas and beyond.  Golden Gate Audubon hosts two Christmas Bird Counts each year — in Oakland and in San Francisco. Both counts have ranked among the top 25 nationwide in terms of numbers of species found.

  • The Oakland count circle extends from Treasure Island northeast to the San Pablo Reservoir in Contra Costa County, and south to St. Mary’s College in Moraga and the Oakland International Airport. With its wide variety of habitats, the Oakland count typically records more than 170 bird species.
  • The San Francisco count circle includes the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge and all of San Francisco, and reaches down the peninsula to San Bruno Mountain and the wetlands north of the San Francisco International Airport. Also blessed with a wide variety of habitats, the San Francisco count generally tops 160 species.

Each count day culminates with a festive dinner where final counts are tallied and stories exchanged about rare bird sightings and locations. Local CBC data, sent to the National Audubon Society, are a crucial part of this country’s natural history monitoring database provide valuable insight into the past and present status and health of continental bird populations and the general health of our environment. Recent and historical CBC results are available on the National Audubon Society’s website.

For a look at what CBCs can tell us about changing bird populations, see Bob Lewis’ post on our Golden Gate Birder blog about data from Oakland Christmas Bird Counts.

For past CBC results, please see:

2012_Oakland_CBC_Report and 2012 Oakland CBC Tally

2011 Oakland CBC Report and 2011 Oakland CBC Tally


Looking for another count area? For the entire California list,  check out Nature Alley

Some local counts we recommend:

  • Benicia
  • East Contra Costa County
  • Eastern Alameda County
  • Contra Costa County
  • Pt. Reyes Peninsula
  • Marin