Archive for December 3rd, 2014

Birding: Making Birds Count

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014


Christmas Bird Count -- the early years.

Christmas Bird Count — the early years.

This is Passport to Texas

The name “Christmas Bird Count” is a bit of a misnomer.

04—It doesn’t happen on Christmas Day. It happens in a period around Christmas.

That period is December 14th through January 5th. And it’s when volunteers go into the field to count birds.

04— You just have to pick a day in that three week period to do the count.

Cliff Shackelford is a non-game ornithologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Volunteers count birds in teams within a 15-mile radius circle with oversight by a count compiler who rules the roost.

11—And those people [compilers] decide on a day, and they divvy up the pie of where these teams can go look for birds in this fixed radius circle, and you count birds within that circle.

The time-frame for the count is 24 hours – midnight to midnight. You might wonder “who” takes the early shift.

10—A lot of people want to know about owls [for example]; so, they get up early. Three A.M., maybe, and go listen for owls. And that’s pretty valuable. But, most people do just the daylight hours.

Cliff recommends the earliest daylight: dawn.

12—That’s when you get the best bird diversity at dawn. Everybody’s waking up: singing, calling and foraging and activity is the greatest right at dawn. Because, birds have slept all night and they’re hungry for something to eat.

Compilers collect the volunteer’s data and submit it to Audubon, which analyzes it.

Find more information about the Christmas Bird Count at

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.