This year’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC)—held annually between December 14 and January 5—will be on Sunday December 17 in the Olympia area. According to the National Audubon Society it is the “nation’s longest- running citizen science bird project,” now in its 117th year. Beginning on Christmas day 1900, it was proposed as an alternative to the “side hunt,” a holiday tradition that basically involved venturing afield with guns to shoot as many birds and other animals as possible. Early conservationists proposed counting species as an alternative. Participation has grown from those humble beginnings to more than 70,000 participants in over 2,300 counts world-wide, 1,850 in the U.S. alone.
Each count takes place during a specified 24-hour period within a designated count circle 15 miles across. The boundaries are well established and do not change from year to year. The Olympia CBC circle is centered at 47° 04′ 20.0892″ N and 122°51′ 11.87″ (off of South Bay Road). The count area is divided into 16 sub-areas, each covered by a team of observers with a leader who has usually covered that area for many years. Some teams spend the day walking most of the assigned area and can be on their feet all day; others do less walking and/or split into smaller groups. A map of the area can be found on the Black Hills Audubon webpage under the CBC tab.
Those interested in participating have several options. If you are interested in joining the count, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Most participants contact the count coordinator for assignment to one of the teams. Other options include feeder watching or recording birds on your own property. The count is traditionally followed by a countdown and compilation of the species seen that day, rewarding participants with a chili-feed dinner at dusk at Gull Harbor Lutheran Church, 4610 Boston Harbor Road NE. If you are interested in helping with the dinner, contact Diane Coulter, 360-867-9701.