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Christmas Bird Count Season

By Harry Fuller, Klamath Bird Observatory Board President

The oldest and most venerable citizen science effort on earth is the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). It began back in 1900 with a handful of counters across a few states. The CBC was initially seen as a way to counter what was then a major holiday tradition: everyone who got a new gun for Christmas went out the next day to see how many birds they could shoot.

Now there are more birds seen and counted than slaughtered during the Christmas season. And the extensive data base built up over the decades is useful for tracking changes in bird populations and effects of climate change and habitat alteration. You can click here to explore the CBC data online.

207 02 Cedar Waxwing 1241This is the 114th annual CBC and counts now take place in many countries across the globe. The National Audubon Society organizes the CBC and handles the database. Here are the dates for upcoming Christmas Bird Counts in the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon:

Medford, Dec. 14

Ashland, Jan. 4

The Ashland count will be followed by a count dinner at Alex’s Restaurant. We are seeking volunteers for the Rogue Valley counts. You don’t have to be an expert, just enthusiastic. As always, a good time will be had by all. Let me know if you would like to be part of the Ashland or Medford counts (atowhee AT

The Cedar Waxwing is a regular species on our Christmas Counts, but the number varies widely. Some years there will be hundreds in the area, the next year perhaps only a handful. They wander around in fall and winter in search of good berry and fruit supplies. Crops from native and exotic plants may be radically different from one year to the next. Waxwings may find fruit on western juniper, chokecherry, crabapple, blackberry, holly, dogwood, grape vines, mistletoe, madrone, manzanita, huckleberry, and feral plum. In winter they may also eat buds on early budding trees like alder.