Bird Counts

In addition to our monthly field trips, their are six special bird counts available for those who would like to participate. Dates and contact information are given under the count description.

Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Bird Counters are among the more than 44,000 volunteers participating in the National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count, December 16- January 2. Each local count selects one day during this period.

This year marks the 103rd anniversary since 27 conservationists decided to protest the traditional bird shoot, and instead of killing birds, they counted them on Christmas Day 1900. The event originated as a protest to the traditional holiday ‘side hunt’ in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and animals in one day.

Today, volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Pacific islands will count and record every individual bird and bird species encountered during one calendar day. About 1700 individual Christmas Bird Counts will be held during a two and a half week period. Each count group has a designated circle 15 miles in diameter — about 177 square miles — where they try to cover as much ground as possible within a 24-hour period. The data collected by each count group are then sent into National Audubon Society headquarters in New York. Count data is published in a special book that is sent to participants.

Apart from its attraction as a social, sporting, and competitive event, the annual count reveals interesting and scientifically useful information on the early-winter distribution patterns of various bird species and the over-all health of the environment.

The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running ornithological database. As we approach the count’s centennial, it continues to grow in importance as a means to monitor the status of resident and migratory bird populations across the western hemisphere. The count is 1 00% volunteer generated data that, over the years, has become a crucial part of the National Biological Service’s database.

For nearly a century, the Christmas Bird count has provided invaluable insight into the past and present status and health of continental bird populations, as well as the general health of our environment. The CBC has proved to be a perfect example of how volunteer generated data is important.

All counts are open to birders of all skill levels. For more information about local counts, contact Dan Scheiman at: ascabird at

Great Backyard Bird Count

This count is held the second weekend in February and is intended to determine the mid-winter numbers and distribution of birds and how climatic conditions, dwindling habitat and other threats such as West Nile Virus affect birds. Individuals or groups count birds in their backyards, at their feeders or at a favorite birding area during this four day weekend. You can count one day or all four days. If you would like to join a group in Central Arkansas for this count, contact ascabird at several days prior to the count. Count results should be entered into the database for each day you count. The database can be accessed at: Here you can view last year’s data for any zip code or view current data after the count date.

You can visit the previously mentioned web site for instruction on how to participate, tips on bird identification, etc. Those without home Internet access can visit their local library or at select Wild Birds Unlimited stores to enter their data.

International Migratory Bird Day

In Arkansas the IMBD, which is held the second Saturday in May each year and is a nation wide event, is celebrated as a state-wide bird count. If you are interested in participating, contact Leif Anderson at: ascabird at . Counts have been established in 27 counties in Arkansas. If you reside in one of those counties your inquiry will be forwarded to the coordinator for that county and you may join other birders for the census. If you live in a county with no established census, we will work with you to establish a count in your county. The rationale for having the count is given below. Additional information can be found on the Fish and Wildlife Service web site.

WHY have a migratory bird count?

Have you ever wondered “What is the Shape of migration?”. It all depends on your viewpoint. Water fowlers have benefited from the extensive studies of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in their role for managing the Nation’s game species resource. Hawk watchers may think of it as “Rivers” and space themselves on ridges and prominent peninsulas like the Marin Highlands, Whitefish Point, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Cape May, to count the flow. Shore birders look at it as “Island Hopping” and go to the “islands” of Bodega Bay, Mono Lake, Bear River, Galveston, Cheyenne Bottoms, Higbee’s Beach, and Pea Island. All of these have led to efforts to preserve and protect critical habitat for migration: we now have the National Wildlife Refuge System, Hawk Mountain, and the Delaware Bay Beaches. But what of Songbirds?

By what paths do neotropical migrants move from Central and South America to their breeding grounds? Do American Redstarts line up in military style and move north in a solid front, leaving occupying forces along the way? Perhaps Wood Thrushes are like blood flowing through major arteries before anastomosing into capillaries. Think of Kingbirds lining up like the runners in the New York Marathon and visualize the spread after the starter’s pistol. Maybe Purple Martins move like ducks, geese and swans, with colonies making a series of short hops along a predictable route. It may seem wild, but do Bobolinks move like shorebirds, with a series of widely spaced discrete essential stops?

Most of you have participated on the Christmas Bird Counts sponsored by the National Audubon Society. The rules are simple: spend a day in the field counting birds in a specified area, and keep track of hours & miles on foot, car, boat, feeder watching. The IMBC is like the Christmas Bird Count, but with a few twists. The area for any one count is not a 15 mile diameter circle, but an entire County [Parish in Louisiana]. The big twist is the timing: unlike Christmas Bird Counts, which are spread over several weeks, this count is done on just a single day.

The choice of the second Saturday in May has been made to try to find the peaks of movement of neotropical species while they are still where most of the birders are. It will not be peak everywhere: the Northern States will be getting the first glimmer of Spring and the Deep South will be in early breeding season, but the overall goal is of importance to everyone.

The Purpose: paraphrased from Chandler S. Robbins, Maryland May Count Coordinator,1952.

To give each and every Birdwatcher the opportunity to enjoy a day’s birding during Spring Migration with the knowledge that the result of their findings, together with the birds counted by others, would fit together like the pieces of a puzzle and reveal the status of bird migration on a specified date.

The goals of the IMBC are:

  • To obtain a “snapshot” of the progress of spring migration.
  • To obtain information on the abundance and distribution of each species.
  • Initiate more participation among birders within a state and between states.
  • Create challenges and goals among birders while collecting useful information.
  • Have fun.
  • Establish the second Saturday in May as a national birding day.

Lower Mississippi Valley Shorebird Count

For the past two years, birders in the lower Mississippi Valley have conducted a count of migrating shorebirds at about 80 sites in the region to give a snapshot of shorebird density and distribution. This year (2003) the dates for the count will be August 9-10, 23-24 and September 6-7. If you would like to participate in the Central Arkansas area count, contact: ascabird at

Information obtained in these counts will give land managers information for more effective conservation of shorebird habitat and will help in timing the control of water levels on public lands.

To obtain information on previous years’ counts, reports, maps or general information about the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture go to the website at:

Chimney Swift Migration Count

The Chimney Swift nesting season is drawing to a close, and the roosting flocks have begun to congregate. Once again this year we are going to try to raise awareness of Chimney Swifts and Vaux’s Swifts by holding our third annual Swift Night Out.
In 2003, we will have two Swifts Nights Out to accommodate our more northern contributors. The first event will be on August 15, 16 and 17 . This is a little early for many USA roosts, but it can be a great scouting event in preparation of the final event in September. The main event will be held the weekend after Labor Day: September 5, 6 and 7. We propose that over the next couple of weeks you locate a Chimney Swift or Vaux’s Swift roost in your area. A roost is a location where swifts gather at dusk to spend the night. Then on one night over the weekend of August 15, 16 and 17 , you observe the roost at dusk and estimate the number of swifts that enter. When you have your number, contact us with your results. We will set up a page on our web site to compile the results as they come in. You may send in your results by email, fax, phone or regular mail – we will continue to update the results through mid-September. Here are the contact numbers: Email: dwa at

Along with the number of swifts counted, please include your city and state or province and the date that you observed the roost. If you provide the exact location of the roost that you monitor, we will also include that information in the results. If you are a member of a local bird club, outdoor group, Audubon chapter or any other organization that might be interested in participating, please ask them to pass this information along to their membership. For more information and to see the results from previous years, go to: Thank you for your support of Chimney Swift conservation.

Paul and Georgean Z. Kyle
Driftwood Wildlife Association
North American Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project
1206 West 38th Street, Suite 1105
Austin, Texas 78705
phone / fax: (512) 266-3861
Visit our web page at: