American Birds 2011-2012, Summary of the 112th Christmas Bird Count

American Birds 112: Cover page
David Armer

The 112th Christmas Bird Count had the promise of being a season with plenty of Snowy Owls (Bubo scandiacus) around, and the anticipation bore plentiful fruit as these magnificent birds moved southward in record number. The irruption was unusually widespread in geographic scope, but birders and CBC participants in Montana, where our cover subject was photographed, were treated to large numbers of Snowy Owls in that region.

In this issue of American Birds you'll find a series of feature articles that highlight many aspects of the Christmas Bird Count. Leading things off is an announcement of two important changes to the Christmas Bird count. In a nutshell, the participant fee for the CBC has been eliminated, and to financially enable this decision American Birds will no longer be mailed in printed form, and instead will be delivered in an online format. In our second feature, Steve Hampton details his work to create an index to analyze CBC data and applies this to four species impacted by West Nile Virus. Dusti Becker writes about the efforts of participants in the Loma Alta, Ecuador CBC to break their own record for species counted on their CBC day. Then Royce Pendergast tells us about Bill Graber, who has been compiler of the Bolivar Peninsula count in Texas for 50 consecutive years.

A new record total of 2248 CBCs are in the 112th season's database (up 88 from last year's one-year-wonder record high), including 410 in Canada, 1739 in the United States, and 99 counts in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. Results such as these cannot be generated without the inclusion of a wealth of new circles, including 46 new CBCs in the 112th Count (15 in Canada, 26 in the United States, and 5 in the Caribbean and Latin America).

Not surprisingly, given the number of CBCs and remarkably favorable weather, another new record level of participation is included in the 112th Christmas Bird Count--63,227 observers (54,262 in the field and 8965 at feeders) contributed their time and effort this season. That total is 603 higher than last year's record tally, swelled mostly by an increase in field participation, even though the number of feederwatchers slightly declined.

 

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