Birding: Christmas Bird Count

This is Passport to Texas

More than a hundred years ago people participated in a time-honored Christmas tradition.

06—People would go out and do what was called a side hunt, and the winning group would come back with the biggest pile of dead critters.

How festive. The majority of critters in those piles were birds. Cliff Shackelford, a non-game ornithologist with Parks and Wildlife, says conservationists had a better idea.

05—Early conservationists thought that we ought to count birds and not try to collect birds.

Today we have the nationwide Christmas Bird Count. This season—between December 14 and January 5—groups of volunteers, armed with a bird list, head into the field and count birds over a 24-hour period.

15—What people do is they get into teams, and they have a defined 15 mile radius circle that they’re counting in, and that circle never moves. The hope is that you would count that circle for decades and decades and over time you would see trends.

Different groups pick different days within that three week period to count birds. Researchers then use the census information to assess the health of bird populations, and to guide conservation action.

It may be a little late to get involved this year, but there’s always next year.

05—They might need a full year’s heads up to chew on it and figure out, hey, I want to do this next year.

Go to for more information. The Sport fish and Wildlife Restoration Program supports our show. For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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