Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Christmas Bird Count time again!

Posted by donaldthebirder

The Christmas Bird Count season is probably my second favorite time of the year for birding. I enjoy getting out with fellow birders that I haven't seen since this same time last year. It is also cool to get out into areas that seldom get birded.

I have gotten quite a few lifers on CBCs in the past. I remember being shown my first Northern Saw-whet Owl. I also remember seeing my first Lapland Longspurs only a few miles from my house. My first up-close view of a Barred Owl occurred while I was CBCing. I remember the bird looking down at me to this day. These are experiences I will never forget.

Barred Owl

For the last few years, I seem to always get a Merlin on a count. I very seldom see them otherwise. I will take a Merlin anytime!

A CBC Merlin

I feel very fortunate and privileged to have been able to learn from a great deal of talented expert birders in the past. These birding "mentors" have played a significant role in shaping my birding ability. When I first started birding, I would go to the CBC tallies and wonder in awe at how the same birders would always find the "good" birds. At first, I thought that it may have just been that they are in the right spots at the right times. However, having been able to bird with them a few times, I found that it wasn't that simple.

Most birders start out by pouring over field guides in order to become a better birder. I tried that route, but I found that this alone doesn't make one a "better" birder. It is all about experience. If you know of birders that always seem to find the "good" birds, just follow them around for a while and watch how they bird. Ask them questions about how they do their thing.

Unfortunately, I am only able to do a couple of CBCs a season. It is definitly my second favorite time of the year to get out, as you never know what you might find lurking in never birded areas. Below is a photo of a leucistic Northern Cardinal I found on a CBC a few years ago.

Leucistic or Piebald Cardinal

So go help put the birds on the map and get out there and have fun!


  1. great post Donald, i really need to start doing this too, would be a good way to keep the birding juices flowing in winter other than watching the feeders.

  2. i'm pretty sure I've shown you this before but spotting my lil' leusistic cardinal was a very proud day. He hung out in my backyard all winter.

  3. I'm embarrassed to confess that I've only done one Christmas Bird Count. It was a blast. It's just hard for me to dedicate an entire day to things when I have so many other responsibilities. Maybe I can still sneak in a CBC this year.

  4. To date, I have not participated in a Christmas Bird Count but reading this wonderful post has certainly peaked my interest. If only I could find the time ... It sounds like you have had some wonderful sightings during these get togethers. Love the terrific Barred Owl image!

  5. Sounds like you're enjoying birding. I enjoy seeing birds in the wild, too. But I don't have too much knowledge about it.

  6. I did one in Cocoa this past Saturday. It was a lot of fun, a great learning experience, and I highly recommend it. Thanks.