Kansas Ornithological Society Christmas Bird Count runs Dec. 12-Jan. 10; Audubon count runs Dec. 14-Jan. 5
PRATT — Winter has blasted into Kansas, and its arrival brings bird watchers the opportunity to bundle up and participate in a Christmas bird count (CBC). Christmas bird counts are great for making new acquaintances, renewing old friendships, and learning more about birds and birdwatching in Kansas.

This is the 110th year for organized Christmas bird counts, and more than 2,000 counts are held across the nation each year. Kansas averages 52 counts per year, the exact number reported in 2008. Many counts are concentrated in the eastern and southern parts of the state, but in recent years, more have been conducted in the west, affording additional opportunities to participate.

Christmas bird counts are conducted in circular census areas with a 7.5 mile radius. This is consistent from count-to-count and year-to-year, always surveying the same location and ensuring that data collected is comparable for population trends over time.

CBCs are easy to prepare for, the best tools being a pair of binoculars, a good field guide, and appropriate clothing and footwear for possible extreme weather. If you are counting in an area with a lake, a good spotting scope can be extremely helpful in identifying birds at a distance. It’s also a good idea to study what the expected species are for your location.

The official Audubon Christmas Bird Count period is Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 every year. The Audubon counts required a $5 participation fee for persons 18 and older, with the money going toward the cost of data publication. However, there are many count compilers in Kansas who only send data to the Kansas Ornithological Society (KOS), and these counts are free. The KOS will accept data collected on counts from Dec. 12 through Jan. 10, 2010, giving counters two more weekends to help survey their favorite areas.

Information about Kansas CBCs can be found at the Kansas Ornithological Society website,