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'Tis the Season for Counting Our Blessings AND BIRDS!!!

Updated: Dec 10, 2023



For over 12 decades, the National Audubon Society has organized the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Between December 14 and January 5, tens of thousands of bird-loving volunteers will participate in counts across the Western Hemisphere. The twelve decades’ worth of data collected by participants contribute to one of only two large existing pools of information notifying ornithologists and conservation biologists of what conservation action is required to protect birds and the places they need.


The Audubon CBC is one of the longest-running wildlife censuses in the world. Each individual count takes place in a 15-mile-wide circle Within each circle, participants tally all birds seen or heard that day—not just the species but total number of individual birds to provide a clear idea of the health of a particular population.


“The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a great tradition and opportunity for everyone to be a part of more than 12 decades of ongoing community science,” said Geoff LeBaron, Audubon CBC director, who first started leading the community science effort in 1987. “Adding your observations helps scientists and conservationists discover trends that make our work more impactful. Participating in the Audubon CBC is a fun and meaningful way to spend a winter for anyone and everyone.”

Mark your calendars and plan to take a break from the holiday hubbub. Participate in one or more of the MAS sponsored Christmas Bird Counts.

Saturday, Dec. 16th • Gaston CBC

Contact: Steve Tracy (stevepath1@aol.com) (circle map)

For many animals the Catabaw River can act as a barrier. Only the heartiest mammal will attempt to swim across the river. Birds, however, are not as easily intimated. And birders shouldn’t be phased by the river either. That’s why we team up with the birders from the Gastonia area to conduct the Gaston County Christmas Count. This is a great opportunity to get to know our neighbors and explore new birding hots. If you are interested in participating contact Steve and he will pair you up with an experienced birder for the day.


Sunday, Dec. 17th • Lake Norman CBC

Contact: Taylor Piephoff (piephofft@aol.com) (circle map)

This is by far the best count circle in the Piedmont. Because of the wide variety of habitat ­ open fields, large lake, small ponds and wetlands, mixed hardwood forest, old farms the potential for unusual birds is great. In some ways this count is like a tour through Peterson’s guide with a smattering of species from loons all the way through to the sparrows with representatives of almost everything in between. There are fast food places in the count circle, but you may want to bring snacks to munch on for energy and warmth. Although you might spend a fair amount of time in the car, warm clothes and sturdy shoes are a must. A tally up dinner will be held at 5:30 PM.


Saturday, Dec. 23rd • Charlotte CBC

Contact: Matthew Withrow (withrow.matthew@gmail.com) (circle map)

The granddaddy of the local counts (first one was in 1939), this circle still encompasses a surprising variety of habitat considering suburban sprawl which has taken over much of the area. There are still patches of woods, ponds, lakes, streams and open fields which turn up a interesting variety of resident and wintering species. In the last 5 years we have averaged around 90 species. A remarkable number considering the wholesale lost of habitat over the past 20 years which just proves the tenacity of the birds. Since fast food establishments (and warmth) will be just around the corner packing a lunch is optional although a thermos of coffee never hurt. If you can't go out into the field, but live withing the count circle you can participate by counting the birds at your backyard feeders. There will be a tally up dinner at Wing Haven at 5:30 PM. Just bring your appetites and good birding stories.


Saturday, Dec. 30th • Pee Dee CBC

Contact: Judy Walker (birdwalker@me.com) (circle map)

This count always produces some surprises and there's no better way to start the new year than wandering the trails of Pee Dee Wildlife Refuge. We will have access to the areas that are closed for the season to provide sanctuary for thousands of ducks. Habitats include open fields, mixed woodlands and small lakes and ponds. Red-headed woodpeckers and ducks abound and if we are lucky a few Tundra Swans might grace the landscape. We will be out in the field all day so remember to dress warmly as things can get pretty cold out in the fields. Also you will need to bring a lunch, water and snacks.

We will meet at 7:30 AM in the parking lot adjacent to the administrative building, about 1/4 mile down the wildlife drive from the main entrance on Rt. 52. If you are interested in participating contact Judy, so she has an idea of how many folks will be counting. Carpooling can be arranged, let Judy know if you need a ride.

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