Watching wildlife in December

Wildlife and wilderness tours

  • Pacific green turtles lay their eggs, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Watching wildlife in the USA in December

The Christmas Bird Count

The Christmas Bird Count is a grand birding tradition, respected by all the respectable birders. Its roots extend back to the turn of the previous century. The National Audubon Society tells the story best:

Prior to the turn of the century, people engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas “Side Hunt”: They would choose sides and go afield with their guns; whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won. Conservation was in its beginning stages around the turn of the 20th century, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, an early officer in the then budding Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition – a ‘Christmas Bird Census’ – that would count birds in the holidays rather than hunt them. So began the Christmas Bird Count. Thanks to the inspiration of Frank M. Chapman and the enthusiasm of twenty-seven dedicated birders, twenty-five Christmas Bird Counts were held that day. The locations ranged from Toronto, Ontario to Pacific Grove, California with most counts in or near the population centers of northeastern North America. Those original 27 Christmas Bird Counters tallied a total of 90 species on all the counts combined. Christmas Bird Count