The Christmas Bird Count has been running for 121 years through thick and thin. This year, individual counts will be adapted to meet each locality’s COVID-19 protocol, but they will persevere.
The Christmas Bird Count is North America’s longest running citizen science project. The counts are free and welcome birders of all skill levels. The data collected over a single 24-hour period – running between December 14, 2020 and January 5, 2021 – form one of the world’s largest sets of wildlife data used by conservation biologists.
Attracting thousands of volunteer participants across Ontario, the outdoor events can be done while remaining socially distanced and wearing a mask. Some routes may be divided to limit the number of participants on trails. Birds Canada President, Steven Price, suggests that participants survey with only one other survey partner. The wrap-up session that normally concludes most counts will be postponed and carpooling is restricted to members from the same household.
The Christmas Bird Count is a great holiday tradition that, unlike many other traditions, can be done safely during the pandemic. It presents participants with the opportunity to connect with nature while collecting important data about Ontario’s birds, and to reap the benefits of both.