I'll be CBC-ing you ...

From under a pile of blankets, Kenn writes: Okay, picture this. It's Sunday morning -- yesterday morning, and we're out before it's fully daylight, standing in the soggy weeds along the edge of a soggy woods. The temperature is above freezing, but the only way we know that is because the wind-driven precipitation hitting our faces is rain, not ice. And my thoughts are running something like this:

- According to a US Fish & Wildlife Service survey in 2006, there are approximately 81,400,000 bird watchers in the United States.

- If that's true, then last year, there were 81,353,380 bird watchers in the United States who did not take part in the Christmas Bird Count (CBC). But last year set a new high record for participation!

Standing there in the freezing wet night and thinking about it, I'm reminded of the late lamented Rick Blom, who might have commented that "no one does this, and if you try it, you'll understand why." Still, we are out there doing it. Kim and I were out all day yesterday on the Toledo CBC, and we actually had a great time and saw a lot of birds, but I'm pondering two rhetorical questions:

1. If we must have a Christmas Bird Count, why couldn't Jesus have had the decency to be born at a warmer time of year?

2. Given the evident popularity of birding, why doesn't the CBC draw more participants than it does?

Those are, as I said, rhetorical questions, though I'd love to hear from anyone who has an answer. But I'm trying to formulate a more serious question about how bloggers relate to the reality of the birding community and how the CBC relates to both. That question isn't in coherent form yet, so please check back for it when you can.


  1. Good question, and by this I'm referring to the second, not the first!

    The answer that we all hope is false is that the projected number of birders is GROSSLY exaggerated.

    Think about how many self-described birders you know and then look at what percentage of them participate in a CBC. If enough of us do that, we may come up with a more realistic estimate of who is birding versus who just looks at ducks in the park.

  2. Thanks, Mike. Excellent points. This may come back to the sticky question of how we define "birders." In a way, I'd like to include everyone who looks at ducks in the park, if that duck-watching would lead them to support bird conservation in some way. But I wonder if the CBC would draw more participants if it were held at a more comfortable time of year ... or if we should just promote it to devotees of extreme sports!


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