Christmas Bird Count

Houston birdwatchers will be out and about this weekend participating in a yearly event known as The Christmas Bird Count. The annual tradition is more than 100 years old and serves to document the migration patterns of North American Birds.

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In the late 19th century conservation efforts were beginning to gain popularity and in 1900 Frank Chapman, an early officer in the newly formed Audubon Society, started a new holiday tradition. Houston Audubon Society Sanctuary Manager Winnie Burkett says he called it the Christmas Bird Count.

That first Christmas Bird Count inlcuded 27 people and tallied a total of 90 species. These days, more than 52,000 people count birds across the continent, documenting everything from the turkey vulture to the pygmy nuthatch.

Burkett says the count was started as a conservation effort, but it has evolved into a fun and practical way to monitor the migration and growth patterns of different species.

It's too early to tell if any trends emerged from this season's count, but Burkett says more birds are counted every year, all of it done by volunteer birdwatchers.

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