Christmas Bird Counts
Join us for our 2013 Christmas Bird Counts on Sunday December 15 in Oakland and Friday December 27 in San Francisco! Registration will open in mid-October.
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:
Looking for another count area? For the entire California list, check out Nature Alley.
Some local counts we recommend:
- East Contra Costa County
- Eastern Alameda County
- Contra Costa County
- Pt. Reyes Peninsula