How would you like to be part of the world's longest running citizen science program? Sunday kicks off the 115th annual Christmas Bird Count, and birders throughout the state are invited to participate.
The count is conducted in specific areas, known as Christmas Bird Count circles. Each 15-mile diameter circle is managed by an experienced birder. Leaders and their contact information are listed on the website Vermont ebird.
"While there is a specific methodology to the CBC and you need to count birds within an existing Christmas Bird Count circle, everyone can participate," Vermont eBird explains. "If you are a beginning birder, you will be able to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. If your home is within the boundaries of a Christmas Bird Count circle, then you can stay home and report the birds that visit your feeder or join a group of birdwatchers in the field."
Vermont eBird also provides the following history of the event:
The longest running citizen science program in the world, the count originally began on Christmas Day in 1900 when ornithologist and legendary birder Frank Chapman posed an alternative to an earlier traditional holiday “side hunt.” Chapman proposed “hunting” birds to record their numbers. Instead of firing a shotgun, now we have an annual snapshot. Decades of data have added up to results envied by other scientists who don’t enjoy such a fleet of volunteer help, or creatures as easily seen and counted as birds.
Vermont Christmas Bird Count circles include Barnet, Brattleboro, Burlington, Chaplain Islands/St. Albans, East Franklin County, Ferrisburgh, Hanover-Norwich, Hinesburg-Huntington, Island Pond, Lamoille County, Mad River Valley/Northfield, Middlebury, Mt. Abraham, Plainfield, Randolph area, Rutland, Saxton's River, Springield, Winhall/Windham and Woodstock.