2020 Christmas Bird Count

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Birders Needed!

Once again this year, the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society will join chapters across the country and in North and South America, Hawaii, and the Caribbean to take part in the National Audubon Society’s 121st annual Christmas Bird Count.

The initial San Fernando Valley CBC was held in 1957 making this our 64th successive CBC. Over the years there have been some interesting changes in bird populations in the count circle as the valley has transitioned into a more developed area. 

Last year we counted 133 species and 18,874 individuals, somewhat higher than our average since 2000, 128 species and 15,512 individuals. This uptick is likely a result of increased coverage compared to previous years, highlighting the importance of counting every park.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the CBC will be operating very differently this year. To reduce the risk of transmitting the virus, count teams will not be open to the public or listed in the Phainopepla or on the website, and sector leaders will be doing their counts either alone or with a small, handpicked team (although counting alone is encouraged). To ensure everyone’s safety, COVID Safety Guidelines have been published HERE and must be followed by all counters.

If you are not a designated sector leader or picked for a team, it is still possible to participate in the count:

  • If you live within the San Fernando Valley CBC circle, a 7 ½ mile radius from the intersection of Balboa Blvd & Nordhoff St. (Click HERE for a map of the CBC zone). Within this area, you can count birds in your yard, or you can walk over to a nearby park or school and count what you see there. Remember, every bird counts, be it a Golden Eagle or a Yellow-rumped Warbler.
  • Like last year, we will be conducting a pre-count during the 3 days before the count (December 16-18). The purpose of the pre-count is to try and find rare birds at very small parks that are not covered on count day because they have few birds there to begin with. It may seem like a fool’s errand, but it has shown some success. Last year, the pre-count yielded 4 unusual species, including our CBC’s first ever Pin-tailed Whydah, and it directly contributed to our second-highest count of Red-breasted Nuthatches.
  • This year, we will also be organizing nocturnal owling missions, which are done by car. 
  • We will also need backup sector leaders, to lead a count sector in the event that the sector leader has to drop out unexpectedly. Backup leader positions will be selected on a first come, first served basis.

*note, if you sign up as a backup leader, you probably won’t know which sector you will be covering until the last second, and the majority of backup leaders will end up doing yard counts.

  • If you would like to serve as a backup leader, participate in an owling mission, or in the pre-count please email Alexander deBarros (info below) before December 13th.

Extensive birding experience is not a prerequisite, just a willingness to go out and bird, and an ability to follow the COVID-19 Safety Guidelines. Regardless of how you end up counting, please email a list that includes all the birds you see (species and individuals) and the amount of time you spent looking to Alexander deBarros, alexanderdebarros@yahoo.com, no later than January 4, 2021. eBird lists are encouraged; a paper checklist can be downloaded for printing by clicking HERE

These are difficult times for everybody. We all must do what we can to stay safe and work together to make it through this pandemic. Difficult situations often require difficult solutions.