This year marks the 5th anniversary Woodland Dunes has been offering a Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for Kids. Children age eight and older will 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,” 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 species they observe. After, the teams sip on hot beverages and munch on snacks while compiling their data to present to the other teams.
Not wanting to leave younger siblings out of the fun, Woodland Dunes also offers a Budding Birders program that runs simultaneously as 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. The kids decorate the outdoor bird feeding area, Chickadee Landing, for the birds. 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 117th year.
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 need not 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 email@example.com. If you live outside of Manitowoc County, contact Kyle Lindemer, the CBC coordinator for Wisconsin at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more background information about the CBC, visit www.christmasbirdcount.org.