Birder's Guide

MAY 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 41 of 51

40 Bi rder's Gu ide to Conservation & Community | May 2014 Thousands of young naturalists braved the wild winter, birding through snow and rain, blizzards, ice storms, and the infa- mous polar vortex, to identify and count winter birds across North America. A new and enthusiastic generation of young bird- ers eagerly participated in Christmas Bird Count for Kids events from coast to coast in Canada and the U.S. this past winter. Most of these young birders and their parents initially participated for the pur- pose of traditional holiday "fun"; however, many have and will continue to take part, knowing their efforts are also contributing to bird conservation. Youth are learning a new way to play outside, rediscovering na- ture as "citizen scientists". Citizen science is not a new concept; in fact, it is more than a century old. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC), which began in the year 1900, was the frst and is now the longest-running scientifc study that credits the energy and efforts of thousands of enthusiastic volunteers. Ev- ery year, CBCs survey and monitor winter bird populations across the Americas, pro- viding important information for bird sci- ence, government, and conservation. Observing birds can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels, from ca- sual backyard birdwatchers to competitive birders ticking through their life lists. And, because more than 10,000 bird species can be found around the globe, birding can be a life-long quest, intriguing all levels of birders. Considering the ease and versa- tility of this hobby, the challenge for the CBC and other similar citizen science pro- grams is to attract the attention of young people, and, ultimately, the next cohort of citizen scientists. A growing need for youth-oriented bird programming is being acknowledged by local and global birding communities. Although the importance of connecting kids with nature is widely rec- ognized, skill building and mentoring also play important roles in engaging and sus- taining youth participation. Recognizing this trend in area CBC events around Sonoma, California, the idea of a Christmas Bird Count "just for kids" evolved. In 2007, two of us, Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie, hosted the frst Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4K- ids), a youth- and family-oriented alter- native to the century-old traditional CBC that had already been established in So- noma Valley. The success of this inaugural CBC4Kids spread excitement and interest throughout the Northern California bird- ing community, building momentum to spread the CBC4Kids movement across North America. Bird Studies Canada, a partner with the National Audubon Soci- The Christmas Bird Count for Kids Engaging a New Generation of Young Birders Families flock together over the winter holidays from Alaska to Florida to participate in the CBC4Kids, which is offered in English, French, and Spanish. Photo © Christine Hansen 6-CBC4K.indd 40 5/22/14 7:57 PM

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