Prior to the turn of the 20th century, people engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas "Side Hunt": They would choose sides and go afield with their guns. The winner was whoever brought the biggest pile of birds and wildlife.
Conservation was in its beginning stages during that time, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, a "Christmas Bird Census" that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them, and so began the Christmas Bird Count.
The Christmas Bird Count is held every year between December 14 to January 5. The data collected by observers during this annual bird count allows researchers, conservation biologists, and interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. Led by experienced Audubon birders, participants will follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. Results will then be sent to the National Audubon Society, where they will be compiled and posted online at www.audubon.org in January.
Christmas Bird Count At Wildcat Glades
The annual Joplin area Christmas Bird Count is sponsored by the Ozark Gateway Audubon Society. The 2015 count will take place on Saturday, December 19th. Those who wish to take part should meet at the Audubon Center at 8:00 a.m. for area assignments. Individuals who are new to birding are welcome to carpool with experienced birders. Registration is recommended, but not required.
The Ozark Gateway Audubon Chapter also sponsors a Christmas Bird Count for Kids. The 2015 count will be on January 2, 2016 starting at 9:00 a.m. and will begin at the Audubon Center. This day involves a birding and binoculars boot camp to learn the basics, a bird hike around the park to count species,interactive games, and lunch. Prizes will be awarded to the team with the most species found, and the most unusual bird of the day. Each child will get a prize for participating.
For more information about the Bird Counts, contact the Audubon Center at 417-782-6287 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Chapter President, Calvin Cassady, at 417-438-6220 or 417-438-6213 or email at email@example.com.