This article was written by Jessica Johnsrud, education coordinator
This year marks the 6th anniversary Woodland Dunes has been offering a Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for Kids. Children age eight and older are in invited to work with their peers in a small team, led by an adult bird mentor. Each group decides on a team name and goes through “Binocular Boot Camp.” This consists of gaining an understanding of where to look for birds, learning how to use binoculars, how to use field marks to identify a bird and how to use a field guide. After participating in these activities, each group heads outside to do the count. While surveying, they record the different species of birds encountered and how many of each they see. After, the teams sip on hot beverages and munch on snacks while compiling their data to present to the other teams.
Younger siblings are also encouraged to attend the Budding Birders program, which runs simultaneously with the CBC for Kids. Children ages four to seven years will enjoy bird activities and participate in an abbreviated outdoor count with a bird mentor. The big event for these youngsters is making festive bird feeders using natural materials. Past favorites include smearing peanut butter on small wreaths and adding seeds and stringing berries and grapes on floral wire, which can be shaped into ornaments. The kids decorate the outdoor bird feeding area, named Chickadee Landing, and the birds sure seem to appreciate the gesture!
The Christmas Bird Count has an interesting history. It started in 1900 as an alternative to the popular “Christmas side hunts,” which involved shooting as many birds and wildlife as possible in one day. An ornithologist named Frank Chapman was concerned about conservation and the declining bird populations, so proposed a “Christmas Bird Census,” where people count birds rather than kill them. This was the beginning of Christmas Bird Count and this December marks its 118th year, making the count the longest-running citizen science bird project in the nation.
The CBC is conducted in the United States, Canada and several countries in the Western Hemisphere during a three-week period in mid-December through early January. The data from the count provides scientists with an idea of trends within bird populations. Anyone can participate in the count and you don’t need to be an expert. The counts are conducted in a 15-mile wide diameter circle within different counties on specific days. For more information about the counts and how to participate, contact Bob Domagalski, coordinator for Manitowoc County, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you live outside of Manitowoc County, contact Kyle Lindemer, the CBC coordinator for Wisconsin at email@example.com. For more background information about the CBC, visit www.christmasbirdcount.org <http://www.christmasbirdcount.org> .
Please consider bringing your children to this fun program on Saturday, December 16th from 9:00-11:30am. The cost is $2 per child and registration is required by Friday, December 8th. To register or for more information, call 920-793-4007 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you can join us!
Photo taken by Jessica Johnsrud