Birders and nature enthusiasts in Tioga County, Pennsylvania will join birders across the western hemisphere and participate in Audubon's longest-running wintertime tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), to be held in our area on January 1, 2018. Over 2,000 individual counts are scheduled to take place throughout the Americas and beyond from December 14, 2017 through January 5, 2018. Tioga County through the Tiadaghton Audubon Society has been represented in the count every year since 1968.
The data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists, and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years. This year's count will help help scientists understand the impact of the Gulf oil spill on vulnerable species.
The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when the founder of Bird-Lore (the progenitor of Audubon magazine), Frank Chapman, suggested an alternative to the “side hunt,” in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most game, including birds. Chapman proposed that people “hunt” birds only to identify, count, and record them. These “binocular brigades” often brave winter’s chill, ice and snow in order to record changes in resident populations and ranges. “When Frank Chapman started the Christmas Bird Census, it was a visionary act,” said Audubon President John Flicker. “No one could have predicted how important the CBC would become as a resource and tool for conservation.” CBC data also help document success stories. The Christmas Bird Count has helped document the comeback of the previously endangered bald eagle and significant increases in waterfowl populations, both the result of conservation efforts. “Each CBC volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation,” says Geoff LeBaron, Audubon's Christmas Bird Count Director.
In Tioga County the count is limited to a 177-square-mile circle centered in Whitneyville and encompassing Wellsboro in the west, Mansfield in the east, Ives Run/Hammond Lake in the north, and to just above Arnot in the south. For more information about this historic event, you can visit the National Audubon Society's website here.