Two Turtle Doves! And the 117th Christmas Bird Count…

Two turtle doves © Andy Morffew
© Andy Morffew, two turtle doves

Each year, more than 75,000 volunteers and Citizen Scientists participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count. They collect extensive data on the numbers and varieties of bird species in their communities, which supports critical protection and conservation efforts globally.

The communities span the entire Western Hemisphere, with 2,500 distinct locations throughout the United States, Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Pacific Islands. It’s a scale that professional scientists could never achieve alone.

The Annual Christmas Bird Count is led by the National Audubon Society in the U.S. and Bird Studies Canada in Canada.

According to Bird Studies Canada President Steven Price, “Bird lovers of all ages and skill levels eagerly anticipate the Christmas Bird Count season. Some rise early and hike long distances, whereas many participate by watching their bird feeders from inside their homes. Either way, these volunteer birdwatchers collect valuable information and help us learn about changing bird populations.”

The Christmas Bird Count takes place each year from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5. During last year’s count the totals were impressive:

  • 76,669 volunteers participated
  • 2,505 locations were represented
  • 59 million birds were reported

In Canada alone, 294 different bird species were identified.

“Participating in the Christmas Bird Count is an excellent way to enhance our knowledge of birds during a very important time of year, and it’s a great way to engage the whole family. Citizen Science counts in and near forested areas enhance our knowledge of how birds are using the forest in winter,” said Andrew de Vries, VP Conservation & Indigenous Relations for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI). SFI is an independent, non-profit sustainability organization that stands for the future of forests by promoting responsible forest management.

Currently, 285 million acres/115 million hectares are certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard, which helps conserve important wildlife habitat including bird habitat and flyways. In addition, since 2010, SFI has provided 10 grants for bird conservation, totaling more than $875,000. Both Bird Studies Canada and the National Audubon Society have received SFI grants in the past to support bird research and conservation. Learn about six SFI-supported projects that are helping birds and the critical habitats they depend on. To find out more about the SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program, visit

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