Pine Grosbeak / Norm Dougan / Great Backyard Bird Count
The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a program of National Audubon, a separate 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Seattle Audubon administers our local CBC on behalf of National Audubon. As such, National Audubon will make the call regarding whether or not the 2020 CBC will happen in light of COVID-19 impacts. We will be in touch with Seattle Audubon CBC leaders and volunteers once National Audubon has communicated if and how this year’s CBC will happen.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to be an expert birdwatcher to participate?
Experienced birders, beginner twitchers, neighborhood residents, and newcomers are all welcome to take part in the count. It’s a great way to be introduced to birdwatching. New birdwatchers will be surprised to learn that over 120 species are regularly tallied during the all-day event in Seattle. Total novice? Don’t worry, all volunteers are assigned to teams led by experienced birdwatchers who are familiar with their areas and the avian species that reside there. However, if a full-day out in December weather is not appealing, perhaps consider the Seattle CBC Feeder Watch.
When is it?
The Seattle CBC takes place on the last Saturday in December. This year the count will take place on December 26, 2020. Count teams meet at around dawn (with some teams listening for owls in the pre-dawn darkness) and continue counting until late afternoon. On the evening of the count, CBC participants converge to compile the initial species list for the day and enjoy a warm soup potluck. There is always a surprise sighting or two! Volunteers are always needed for potluck set-up and clean-up duties. Please contact the Community Engagement Manager to volunteer.
WANTED: Feeder Watchers
Don’t want to, or can’t leave the warmth of your home? Only have a spare 30 minutes available? Have a young family that wants to take part? If your home is within the Seattle CBC circle you can still take part in the count by reporting the birds that visit your bird feeders and yard. Simply choose “CBC Feeder Watch Participant” when you register for the count. Check out this map to ensure your feeder and yard are within the Seattle CBC circle boundary.
How do I submit my Feeder Watch data?
Please submit your data using the online datasheet found here. If you have any questions, please reach out to the CBC Coordinator. Completed paper datasheets can also be turned in at the CBC Potluck, or hand delivered to the Nature Shop. To ensure inclusion with the rest of the CBC data, please submit your data to Seattle Audubon as soon as possible after the count (ideally within 3 days).
Can I bring my children?
Though we would love to have participants of all ages on the CBC, the field count option is not the best fit for children. For this reason, Seattle Audubon hosts a Youth and Family CBC event which will take place on Saturday, December 12, at Discovery Park, from 10am-noon. The count will be led by expert birders and offers an opportunity for children to participate in community science! Registration link for the Youth and Family CBC will open on November 1st.
How much does it cost?
The CBC is a free program. However, Seattle Audubon kindly asks you to donate the traditional $5.00 fee to Seattle Audubon to fund work like our community science projects. Simply add your donation during the CBC registration process or click the “Donate” button on the top left of this page.
What should I bring on the day of the count?
Dress for the weather! Surveyors will go out, rain, shine or snow. Layers are strongly encouraged with a waterproof jacket and/or pants. Warm hats, socks and gloves are a must. Some areas require more walking, others more driving, so please wear appropriate footwear. Fluids, snacks and a sack lunch are also important. Binoculars will not be provided, so please bring your own.
Once the count is complete, volunteers can gather with other leaders and counters at the CBC Potluck to listen to the preliminary species results over a bowl of warm soup. The Potluck will take place at the Wedgwood Presbyterian Church in NE Seattle (MAP).
Wedgwood Presbyterian Church
8008 35th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115
Doors open at 4pm if you’d like to warm up a little early; the potlucks end at 7pm. Potluck attendees are asked to RSVP during their CBC registration and indicate whether they will bring a dessert, salad or willing to help set-up or clean-down after the potluck.
Seattle Christmas Bird Count Final Tally Sheet lists all the bird species that are potentially encountered during the Seattle CBC – updated Oct 2017
Other Christmas Bird Counts in Washington State (approx. 36 total taking place annually all over the state, Dec 14 through Jan 5)
National Audubon Christmas Bird Count (learn more about the history and run a custom analysis of the CBC data!)
View online map showing all 2,400+ count circles
Past Media Coverage
“Seattle Audubon’s Christmas bird count draws fans of all levels, from newbies to sighting superstars” Christy Karras, Seattle Times Magazine, February 15, 2019
“Nature is still everywhere: Bird counters find wonder amid Seattle’s towers, dog parks and playfields” Lynda Mapes, Seattle Times, January 1, 2018
“People, birds meet for annual Christmas tally” Maddy Lauria, Seattle Times, December 30, 2017
“Tips for Beginner Bird Watchers” Caroline Craighead, Seattle Magazine, December 2017
“Tallying winter’s wings: cormorants, crows, mallards and more” Alan Berner, Seattle Times, January 2, 2017.
“Seattle Audubon to hold Christmas Bird Count” Madeline Mckenzie, Seattle Times, December 18, 2016.
“Pikes/Pines – Capitol Hill’s Christmas Bird Count” Brendan McGarry, Capitol Hill Times, December 21, 2014.
“Christmas bird count” Colin Ditz, Seattle Times, December 28, 2013.
“Seattle bird lovers stroll out for Christmas count” Emily Heffter, Seattle Times, December 31, 2011.
“The Nerd Issue: Seattle’s Beloved Geek Festivals” (Outdoor section) Anna Samuels, Seattle Magaazine, February 2011
“Christmas Bird Count is bird-watchers’ annual delight” Lynda V. Mapes, Seattle Times, December 21, 2009.
“Birders scan treetops and underbrush in an annual count that began 108 years ago” Craig Welch, Seattle Times, December 30, 2007.
Search Seattle Times archives for “Christmas Bird Count“
“Two Mourning Doves: The Christmas Bird Count” Weekday with Steve Scher on KUOW. Aired December 26, 2007 at 10am.
“Crunch of boot, flash of feather, call of “PISHHHHH” at annual bird count” Nancy Bartley, Seattle Times, December 31, 2006
Questions? Media inquiries?
Contact: Toby Ross, Senior Science Manager at 206-523-8243 x102 or email.