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Christmas Bird Counts

Cedar Waxwing
photo by Dr. Bruce Odou
Allen's Hummingbird
photo by Dr. Bruce Odou
Wilson's Warbler
photo by Dr. Bruce Odou

The Christmas Bird Counts are always held between Dec. 14th & Jan. 5th. This annual bird count encompasses the United States and Canada, as well as Central and South America, the Pacific Islands, West Indies, and Bermuda. The data collected helps scientists learn more about the status and distribution of our birds. Here in Orange County, we have three different Christmas Bird Counts:

  NE (Inland) CBC - Dec. 16, 2018
  San Juan Capistrano (South County) CBC - Dec. 22, 2018
  Coastal CBC - Dec. 30, 2018
All three of the Christmas Bird Counts are sponsored by Sea & Sage Audubon. Everyone is welcome to participate, from beginners to old hands. Those of you who are less experienced can help by tallying the birds. Most sections begin in the early morning and end as the sun sets. After each count, participants gather together for supper and do a general tally of the count.
You can learn a lot about past CBCs by reading through this page and those linked to it. We have complete reports on 5 years of counts on this website. You can find information on the CBCs nationwide as well as those in other areas of California. We have a CBC quiz, written by Sylvia Gallagher, which will help prepare you for the event and we even have a CBC poem for you to enjoy!
If you have not taken part in one of our local CBCs before and wish to do so, please print out a copy of the sign-up form for the count you wish to participate in (see below), and mail it to the address shown on the form. Those people who took part in one of our local CBCs last year, will be contacted by their area leader in late November or early December.
Summaries of each count showing the total for each species is published in the Sea & Sage newsletter, the "Wandering Tattler". A detailed report on all the species for each section of each count is posted here on this website after the data has been compiled, along with the names of all the count participants. Count totals are also available on the NAS Christmas Count website.    
A separate page has been devoted to each of the three Christmas Bird Counts here in Orange County. Each page contains a list of areas to be covered and their count leaders, 7 years of CBC reports showing data for each section, a sign-up form for new participants, and the CBC forms to be used by the participating birders.    
  NE (Inland) CBC - Dec. 16, 2018
  San Juan Capistrano (South County) CBC - Dec. 22, 2018
  Coastal CBC - Dec. 30, 2018
Information on the CBC's nationwide:
  Map of CBC counts in North America
Information on CBC's in California:
CBC Quiz by Sylvia Gallagher (good preparation for the CBC):
CBC Poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (Bird Count That Is):
by Henry Lappen, Amherst, Massachusetts
  CBC poem.htm
CBC Specialties Field Trip: on the 1st Saturday after the last Christmas Count, we hold a special field trip to search for the rare or unusual birds found on this year's CBCs. Originally, the field trip was designed just for those who participated in the count, but now the outing is open to all interested birders, regardless of their participation in the current year's CBCs. The meeting location for the field trip depends upon which area of the county the most birds were found in. Info on the field trip can be found on this website in early January. To give you an idea of the variety of birds listed on the trip itineraries, I have posted several CBC Specialties trip lists below.
CBC Specialties 2002 CBC Specialties 2007 CBC Specialties 2012  
CBC Specialties 2003 CBC Specialties 2008 CBC Specialties 2013  
CBC Specialties 2004 CBC Specialties 2009    
CBC Specialties 2005 CBC Specialties 2010 CBC Specialties 2017  
CBC Specialties 2006 CBC Specialties 2011    


updated Jan. 9, 2018

Sea & Sage Audubon Society
PO Box 5447 • Irvine, CA 92616 • 949-261-7963