Christmas Bird Count: Start a New Holiday Tradition

Learn more about a popular annual birdwatching tradition called the Christmas Bird Count. Plus, find out how to participate this year.

christmas bird countIrina Polyakova/Shutterstock
Start a new Christmas tradition—go birding!

People Around the World Join the Christmas Bird Count

Volunteers for the Christmas Bird Count meet up and search for birds in designated 15-mile circles across the United States, Canada and other international locations.

Plan a big day of birding to see more species, or join the Great Backyard Bird Count. Also follow our birdwatching tips for beginners if you want to start birding.

Psst! While you’re at it, discover some fun facts about the festive Christmas birds in the carol, too.

One Spot in Texas Was Tops for Birders

A total of 224 species were spotted at Texas’ Mad Island Marsh during 2020’s count, the most of any site in the United States or Canada.

Check out these winter birding hotspots to see incredible birds.

You Can Be a Participant in the Bird Count

You can join the birdwatching fun this year, too! Join the 123rd anniversary of the Christmas Bird Count from Dec. 14, 2022, through Jan. 5, 2023. Find more information on the Audubon website.

Gear up before the event! Consult our binoculars buying guide for every kind of birder.

The Bird Count Has a Long History

Lewis's Woodpeckerdrferry/Getty Images
Lewis’s woodpecker

Ornithologist Frank M. Chapman created the Christmas Bird Count in 1900 to bring more attention to conservation efforts. Some notable mentions from the 89 species recorded during the inaugural count include the wrentit, Lewis’s woodpecker and greater prairie-chicken.

Next, check out the best bird field guides for birders and nature field guides for outdoor explorers.

Molly Jasinski
Molly Jasinski is an editor, writer and social media manager for Birds & Blooms. She’s been with the magazine since 2019 and with Trusted Media Brands since 2012. She brings more than 10 years of editorial experience to Birds & Blooms and has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. In her role, Molly works closely with bird experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman and gardening expert Melinda Myers, in addition to the Birds & Blooms freelance writers. Molly was featured in a May 2023 episode of The Thing With Feathers birdwatching podcast. She's a member of the nonprofit Friends of Wehr Nature Center in Franklin, Wisconsin, a popular location for birdwatching in southeastern Wisconsin. She goes out birding often and is still hoping to spot a tufted titmouse in the near future.