Athen’s based lifelong birder and former president of the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society will discuss the history of the Christmas Bird Count at the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society's next monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 6th, at Sandy Creek Nature Center. Please see below for more details.
The Christmas Bird Count is an ongoing National Audubon Society community science program. It is an early-winter bird census reliant entirely on volunteers across the U.S., Canada, and other countries in the Western Hemisphere. Over a 24-hour period between December 18th and January 5th, volunteers go outside and count birds, recording the number of individuals and the species. However, it didn’t start out that way. Prior to the 20th century, hunters engaged in what was known as a Christmas “Side Hunt”, with the goal of bringing back the biggest pile of feathered quarry. This coincided with a growing concern from scientists and citizens that bird populations were declining. On Christmas day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman proposed a new tradition – counting birds during the holidays rather than hunting them. So began the Christmas Bird Count! In Athens, Eugenia Thompson has been the co-compiler (along with Mary Case) of the Christmas Bird Count since 1998. She will share more detail about the program and provide insight from her experiences.
The meeting will be held in the Nature Center’s Education and Visitor Center, 205 Old Commerce Road off U.S. Highway 441 north of Athens. To reach the center from the Loop 10 bypass, exit at U.S. Highway 441/Commerce Road and turn north toward Commerce. Go approximately a mile, turn left at the Sandy Creek Nature Center sign and go to the end of the road. Turn left at Old Commerce Road; parking for the Education and Visitor Center will be on the right.