“Audubon Xmas Bird Counts” (CBC’s) -new holiday tradition-help Mother Nature”

Host a CBC 4 KIDS in your community during Christmas and New Years…Anywhere!
CBC 4 Kids! (In Tucson, AZ)

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he need the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”  Rachel Carson

Every year for over a century, “Christmas Bird Counts” (CBC’s) have been organized across America through Audubon, mainly for adults, during mid-December and early January. Young kids with their families are often not included with this important 24 hour rigorous “citizen science” effort…so we created the CBC 4 Kids…and families… a stand alone half day event instilling some of the important basic ingredients of this grand old Audubon tradition. The objective is to have fun and potentially create a “hometown team” of birders and conservationists for the future while encouraging families to enjoy and respect nature together.

Start simple…It only takes 2-3 teams to get started! Target a date over Christmas and New Years between the 2nd weekend in December and  the 3rd weekend in January while the winter birds are settled. It is a wonderfully simple, healthy, holiday celebration for almost any school, youth group, Audubon Chapter or nature center, wildlife refuge or local community…Anywhere!

Getting Started!

1. FIND A GOOD HOST – Find a good facility & fun partner to support a simple half day event that could provide a comfortable space, volunteers, snacks, water, bathrooms and basic supplies. Examples that might work – Audubon Chapter, Audubon Sanctuary, Ducks Unlimited, National Park, local community center, park & rec. department, a national wildlife refuge with a visitor center, nature center, civic clubs like Rotary, 4H, Boys & Girls Club, Scouts…any organization that wants to encourage the family to get out in nature.

2. Set Date & Time – The half day event (approx – 8:30AM-2:00PM) can take place on any day you choose from the 2nd weekend in Dec. through the 3rd weekend in January.  Birds are mostly settled into their winter habitats. This is a very busy holiday season for families and the traditional Audubon CBC which is a totally separate adult event used for science and research. So if your community offere the traditional CBC work around their dates.  You can also learn from their efforts.

3. Birding Leaders Are Needed – Connect with local Audubon Chapter or birding organization, nature organization or individual birders for several experienced adult birding team leaders that enjoy working with kids and families.
 Junior leaders with birding experience can be very helpful.

4. Establish Birding Routes In Advance – Define good safe (90 minute) birding routes in multiple locations in advance with defined “start and finish” points. Use Google Maps. Half mile walking routes work for this age group. Diversifying the habitats to enrich the variety of birds discovered.  Encourage birding leaders to scout out their birding routes before the event day. If you back track on the same route only add new species not already seen.

5. Target Age Group (Ages 8-15 Works) Middle school or junior high is ideal. Note: Younger family members (very young birders) are invited to the brown bag lunch celebration at noon with adult supervision to enjoy the festivities and kids presentations. Some events choose to offer a “special” program for young birders while the teams of older kids with an adult are actually out birding. The activity works well for bilingual kids and underserved kids. This is not about dropping kids off and babysitting!  A parent or adult family member must attend the event with each child in the field.

6. Birding Team Size – (Ideally, 4-6 kids per team) Observing parents are not considered “birding team members”. Parents come along to help with logistics and to be “quiet observers” facilitators and drivers. The birding team need to work together in the field with their birding leaders to get optimum safe and timely results.

7. Press Release & Public Meeting – We suggest writing a press release and offer a helpful public information meeting 3-4 weeks before the actual event date. Get the word out early!

8. Sign Up & Key Elements for Organizers – Advanced sign up helps.  Be prepared in advance with the rules with birding routes, disclaimer forms, safety issues, one common bird check list (25-50 local birds) for each team and begin team sign up asap. Allow for any organizations, classrooms and individuals to have their own small team if they choose to come as a group. Pre-assigning birding teams, routes and leaders before the day of the event helps. There will be new people showing up on the event day.

9. What to Bring & Wear:

binoculars, scope, field guide, water, snacks/lunch. comfortable shoes, hat, sunscreen, etc.  Always dress for the weather. Local Audubon Chapters, ecology and nature centers and schools often have a supply of binoculars.

For more details and to join or start a team:

In Tucson, AZ. contact.

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of   http://bit.ly/ftgApM

Excerpts courtesy of  http://bit.ly/g37PgV

Image 1. courtesy of    http://bit.ly/fYaywx

Image 2. courtesy  of   http://bit.ly/gozUmn

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