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Audubon Christmas Bird Count

History of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count


Up through the 19th century, many North Americans participated in the tradition of Christmas “side hunts,” in which they competed at how many birds they could kill, regardless of whether they had any use for the carcasses and of whether the birds were beneficial, beautiful, or rare. In December 1900, the U.S. ornithologist Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore (which became Audubon magazine), proposed counting birds on Christmas instead of killing them.

That year, 27 observers took part in the first count in 25 places in the United States and Canada, 15 of them in the northeastern U.S. from Massachusetts to Philadelphia. Since then the counts have been held every winter, usually with increasing numbers of observers. For instance, the 101st count, in the winter of 2000–2001, involved 52,471 people in 1,823 places in 17 countries (but mostly in the U.S. and Canada). During the 113th count (winter 2012–2013), 71,531 people participated in 2,369 locations. The National Audubon Society now partners with Bird Studies Canada, the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory of Texas (responsible for CBCs in Mexico), and the Red Nacional de Observadores de Aves (RNOA, National Network of Bird Observers) and the Instituto Alexander von Humboldt of Colombia.

The greatest number of bird species ever reported by any U.S. location in a single count is 250, observed on December 19, 2005, in the Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh count circle around Matagorda and Palacios, Texas. (Wikipedia)

Our Role|Matagorda County Birding Nature Center


In 1992, MCBNC followed its mission to pursue the first Central Coast Christmas Bird Count and partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Texas and the Audubon Society to create the first Christmas Bird Count in Matagorda County.

The Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh CBC has been number one in the USA for the number of species seen in one day, eighteen times in the last 23 years.  Last year’s winning tally was 239 species. A variety of habitats in the count circle, with forested areas along the Colorado River to the Gulf, native prairies, brushland and wetlands, supports the great number of bird species, both resident and migrating through.

Another very important reason for the continuing success of our count circle is the great support from the community, with landowners giving permission for birders to survey on their property and sponsorship from local businesses. Sponsors of recent Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh CBC s include STP Nuclear Operating Company, Lyondell-Basell, Oxea Chemical, A&A Bar-B-Que, All-Star Real Estate, South Texas Corrugated Pipe LLC,60 North RV Park, and Matagorda Concrete LLC.

The 2016 Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh Christmas Bird Count will be on Monday, December 19. To find out how to take part, Email Brent Ortego, count compiler.

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