Ever considered getting involved in your local Christmas Bird Count? 

What is the Christmas Bird Count?

The Christmas Bird Count started in 1900 and is North America’s longest-running Citizen Science project. It takes place over a single day within a BC community, where bird counts are carried out within a specified 24-km circle area. Depending on your region, it can take place any time between December 14th and January 5th. The counts are organized by local birders, birding clubs, or naturalist organizations and are usually a group effort.

If you’re interested in birds and their conservation, the Christmas Bird Count is very important to conservation research. The information collected turns into one of the world’s largest sets of wildlife survey data. Those results are used by conservation biologists and naturalists to assess the population trends and distribution of birds. Monitoring birds in this way helps to shine a spotlight on recent population declines and potential consequences for ecosystems. It’s important work, and birders are happy to help!

Photo by Martin L. Martens.

Where and When

Whether you’re a novice birder or a seasoned expert, please consider taking part in this year’s Christmas Bird Count effort. To join a group or community event, please reach out to your local count compiler – Birds Canada has a list of participating communities on their website.

As Birds Canada recommends, you should be prepared to dedicate part or all of the count day as either a field observer or feeder watcher somewhere within the count circle. Field observers cover a portion of the count circle on their own or with a small group and count all birds they find. Feeder watchers count birds at their feeders for a portion of the day. The Birds Canada website has more information on what it means to be a field participant or a feeder participant.

Here is a list of communities along The BC Bird Trail that are having Christmas Bird Counts this year:

  • Central Vancouver Island
    • Deep Bay: TBA
    • Duncan: TBA
    • Ladysmith: December 18
    • Nanaimo: TBA
    • Nanoose Bay: December 16
    • Parksville Qualicum Beach: TBA
  • South Fraser & Fraser Valley
    • Abbotsford – Mission: December 30
    • Chilliwack: TBA
    • Harrison River: TBA
    • Ladner: December 18
    • Pitt Meadows: January 1
    • Vancouver (including some areas in Richmond): December 17
    • White Rock – Surrey – Langley: December 29
  • Columbia Valley
    • Cranbrook: December 28
    • Golden: TBA
    • Kimberley: January 4
    • Lake Windermere District (Invermere/Radium area): December 17
  • Sea to Sky
    • Whistler: December 14
    • Squamish: December 17
  • Langford (Victoria): December 17
  • Osoyoos: TBA

You can read more about the Christmas Bird Count on the Birds Canada website and the National Audubon Society website.

Learn more about citizen science and tips for counting birds in our previous Field Notes post, Birding 101: How to Count Birds.


Please keep safety your number one priority should you choose to participate in Citizen Science programs, and always follow your local health authority safety guidelines. Keep up to date with emergency information regarding road conditions and more with EmergencyInfoBC.