Christmas Bird Count

NEW! This year we ask everyone to record sightings using eBird. Look under Key Downloads on this page to find instructions.

The 2023 CBC is Saturday, December 16.

Note that the potluck will start at 6:00 PM, not 5:30 as previously indicated.

What is it, and what do I need to know?

  • The Ann Arbor Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is sponsored by the Washtenaw Bird & Nature Alliance, and it is open to birders of all skill levels.
  • Ann Arbor’s CBC is held as part of a continent-wide effort, coordinated by the National Audubon Society.
  • About 1700 CBC’s are conducted across the continent each year within a window of two and a half weeks. Each count covers a circular area of 15 miles in diameter. The object is to identify and count both the species of birds within the circle, and the numbers of individuals within each species.
  • The data collected from each CBC, along with the names of all participants is published each year by the National Audubon Society.
  • The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running ornithological database. As we approach the count’s centennial, it continues to grow in importance as a way to monitor the status of resident and migratory bird populations across the western hemisphere. The count is 100% volunteer generated data that, over the years, has become a crucial part of the national U.S. database. More information is on the National Audubon Society website.

Is it free?

Yes! The National Audubon Society used to collect $5/person to support publishing and distributing a hard copy volume of data, but since 2012 they no long collect a fee and the data is published digitally for all of us. A donation to National Audubon supports the Christmas Bird Count and many other things. Sign up for the citizen science eNewsletter to get American Birds Online, including Christmas Bird Count results.

How can I participate?

  • Be a field observer: Field observers spend the day (or part of it) outside, working on covering an area. In addition to the daylight census of birds, several groups of observers will conduct a pre-dawn search for owls. The Ann Arbor CBC is divided into eight sub-regions, each of which is covered by an area leader assigned to coordinating the census in that region. Contact an area leader (shown to the right) to participate in that area (see links to maps on this page), or contact the Count Compiler to be assigned based on need.
  • Be a feeder watcher: If you have a bird feeder within the count circle, this is a fun and easy way to participate. Feeder watchers can participate for any length of time; from one hour to all day. NOTE: Your feeder must be within the count circle for us to be able to accept your data! Contact the Feeder Watch Coordinator to participate in this fun way! Note that data from feeders outside the count circle can not be accepted, so please check the maps (links on this page) to be sure your feeder is within the count area.

What happens at the end of the day?

  • We have a fun potluck dinner get-together where we eat, enjoy each other’s company, tell tales of our day in the field, and officially report all the numbers to the Count Compiler.
  • The Potluck and Tally begins at 6:00 PM in the auditorium of the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 North Dixboro Road in Ann Arbor.
  • If you register for the count using the sign-up form on this site, you may indicate if you are attending the potluck, how many persons are with you, and what you are bringing. This helps organize and diversify the potluck contributions. If you did not use our form, or did not indicate whether you are coming (and you are), then please contact the Potluck Coordinator.
  • NEW THIS YEAR: Consistent with our mission of protecting and preserving birds and their habitat, our goal is to make the potluck dinner a zero-waste event. To achieve this, we ask that you bring your own reusable tableware and your own beverages. We will have recyclable/compostable place settings for those who forget. We also ask that any items that must be discarded be placed in an appropriate receptacle (recycle, landfill, etc.)

Who can I contact if I have questions?

  • Contact the Count Compiler if you have questions or if you want to be assigned to an area based on need.
  • Contact the Feeder Watch Coordinator to sign up to watch your feeder. Your feeder must be within the count circle!
  • Contact an Area Leader (see list above right) to ask about a specific area.

Area Leaders

(click a name to open a contact form)

Area No.Leader

When is it?

The 2023 Ann Arbor Christmas Bird Count will be on Saturday, December 16, 2023.

Key Downloads

Area Leaders should download and use and distribute these forms as needed. Feeder Watchers should use the Feeder Watcher Form to report data, and other participants may find the Species Tally Form and eBird instructions to be helpful. Click to view/download.

Ann Arbor CBC Maps

Use these maps to identify a specific area in which to participate and select that area when you sign up online. Contact the leader of that area if you have questions (see contact information on this page). Note that some areas may be more popular than others, and that you may be asked to count birds in an area that differs from your first choice. Click to view/download.