Christmas Bird Counts

Christmas Counts in Nova Scotia

Christmas Bird Counts are the world's longest-running citizen science wildlife survey recruiting tens of thousands of observers in Canada, the US, Latin America, the Caribbean, and some Pacific islands.

In 1900, Frank Chapman, who was the founder of Bird-Lore, (later to become Audubon Magazine), had an idea that instead of doing a hunt to kill as many small animals, including birds as a way of monitoring and understanding, it would be better to arrange teams to count and record simply what they saw instead. This idea, with its humble beginning now involves over 60,000 people per year and is growing.

Each count area forms a circle 24km in diameter with most compilers centering them so as to cover as many habitats as possible and is always held on a single 24 hour day between from December 14 to January 5. Usually the compiler assigns areas to each party of expert and beginner birders to tally all birds seen, regardless of the species. Each count also encourages people with backyard bird feeders to keep track of the birds coming and going on that day. Whether you are in the field counting or watching from the kitchen window, your information is then gathered by the compiler and submitted to The National Audubon Society and added to the enormous database.

The information gathered is an invaluable resource that allows us to show trends of bird populations by species and with over a century of counting there are lots of trends to follow. The National Audubon Society keeps all historic data for each count area. You can access the database, and read more about The Christmas Bird Counts by visiting this link.

Nova Scotia CBC's

The very first Christmas Bird Count (CBC) in Nova Scotia was conducted on December 23, 1913 when Harrison F. Lewis and E. Chesley Allen saw twelve species of birds during the first Yarmouth Count. This count was done again in 1914 and 1915 before Robie Tufts joined them by starting the Wolfville CBC. The results of the early counts were published in Bird-Lore, then in the Canadian Field Naturalist and finally in our own Newsletter. You can find our first CBC in the August 1956 Issue of The Nova Scotia Museum of Science Newsletter in the Library/Resource Centre of our Website.

Today, Nova Scotia boasts of an average of 32 counts per year and between those in the field and those counting birds in their backyard, we have over 1,500 people taking part. The illustration below shows the areas that traditional counts take place in the province with contact information for each compiler. We have a total species list over time of 287 different species as well as several sub-species/races.

The Nova Scotia Bird Society publishes the yearly results in our magazine, Nova Scotia Birds and usually in the Spring edition. It also maintains a separate database for only CBC's that are done in this province in order to capture any CBC's that may not have submitted results to The National Audubon Society.

If you are interested at all in birds, want a bit of fresh air, something the family can all do, be part of a wonderful social event and contribute to the knowledge of birds in Nova Scotia and North America, this is definitely something for you!

Should you wish to start a Christmas Bird Count in your area we can help you get started. If you want to experience the enjoyment of participating in a Christmas Count near you, check the map below, click on a area you wish to take part and contact the compiler that is listed. NOTE: The circles are the size of the ones used for Christmas bird counts, the locations are approximate.


Downloads and Resources

Download Current NS Count Dates and Compiler Contact Information (by Date) 
Download the 2017 Christmas Bird Count Package


For more information about Christmas Bird Counts check out these links

Get Involved / Climate Change / Decline in common birds / Audubon Christmas Bird Count / Christmas Bird Count Press Room

For more information about Christmas Counts in Nova Scotia, contact David Currie, Regional coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.