A Very Merry Bird Count

Libby Buck, Conservation Science and Land Steward at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation •

2 Birding at Polpis Harbor T Taylor
Counting birds around Polpis Harbor. Photo by Tucker Taylor

As Nantucket Island prepares for its 69th annual Christmas Bird Count on December 31st, 2023, the call goes out to all bird and nature lovers—your help is needed! This event is a unique and festive way to celebrate Nantucket's spirit of giving and community. From its modest beginnings with three volunteers, this cherished tradition has flourished into a community-driven event with over 50 participants. Now, as we celebrate nearly seven decades of counting birds, we invite you to join the ranks and contribute to the success of this remarkable citizen science initiative.

The Nantucket Christmas Bird Count is part of the larger Christmas Bird Count (CBC) initiative, a citizen science program organized by the National Audubon Society. This tradition, dating back over a century, engages volunteers across the Americas in counting and documenting bird species for 24 hours, providing a “snapshot” of all the birds in a given radius. The data collected provides crucial insights into bird populations, migration patterns, and the overall health of avian communities.

On Count Day, the island is divided into eight sections, each assigned a team. Everyone will identify, count, and record each bird seen from sunrise to sunset. At the end of the Count Day, all the volunteers gather to compile a master bird list and celebrate their findings. This year, the compilation meeting will be hosted at the UMass Nantucket Field Station with a hybrid option so everyone can be included.

Last year, we counted over 35,000 birds and documented 129 species! To add to the excitement, every CBC is different; you never know what birds you will encounter. Fun fact: being an island located on a migration flyway, we are known to have many rarities appearing for the count.

Whether you're an experienced birder or a novice enthusiast, there are opportunities for everyone to get involved. It’s a fun event to jump-start you into the exciting birding world with fantastic people. You’ll become part of a community dedicated to appreciating and conserving Nantucket's diverse birdlife.

How You Can Make a Difference:

  • Connect with the Count Coordinators: They can provide essential details, answer inquiries, and assist with registration. You can do so by emailing nantucketbirdcount@gmail.com or contacting Libby Buck (co-compiler) at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation (508) 325-0873
  • Register by December 22, 2023: Everyone is welcome to volunteer, but registration is required to secure your spot. Registering in advance allows organizers to plan and assign areas for counting.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure: You can bird with a team or go solo. You can bird the entire day or just your favorite areas. You can even bird from the comforts of your home by becoming a feeder watcher. All options offer a unique and rewarding experience, allowing you to contribute to the count in a way that suits your preferences.
  • Get Ready for Count Day: Pack your birding essentials, including binoculars, a field guide, a notebook, a camera, and weather-appropriate clothing.

So, mark your calendars, grab your binoculars, and make this New Year's Eve memorable for both you and the island's feathered residents!

Stay tuned for more editions of Current Nature, a bi-weekly column featuring seasonal topics, natural history information, and advice on the outdoors from the staff at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation.

Nantucket Christmas Bird Count 2023
1 Nantucket CBC T Taylor
Christmas Count Volunteers on the search for birds By Tucker Taylor
4 Snowy Owl Lbuck
Snowy Owl out at Coatue by Libby Buck
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