Christmas bird count for kids (CBC4Kids)

CBC$Kids in Stanley Park, Vancouver. Image credit: J. Beechley

Inspired by the well-loved Christmas Bird Count, one of the oldest ongoing citizen science projects in Canada and the US, the Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids) initiative engages new generations of young birders and nature enthusiasts.

CBC4Kids was established in 2007 by Sonoma Birding in California and has been coordinated nationally by Bird Studies Canada since 2010. Fun and family-friendly CBC4Kids events are hosted by naturalist groups all across Canada as an exciting way for kids and their families to learn about wild birds in their neighborhoods, build identification and monitoring skills and contribute to a nation-wide citizen science project while connecting with their local naturalist community.

Each CBC4Kids event helps create an annual snapshot of how the birds in our parks and other natural spaces are doing during the months of December and January while highlighting any common bird species that need our help.

In the 2017/2018 season, 142 different bird species were reported from 58 CBC4Kids events across Canada. NatureKids BC hosted around 10 of these events through their family clubs across British Columbia.

So how do you create your own CBC4Kids event? It’s easier than you might think:

  • Plan and register your event: Naturalist groups, such as NatureKids BC, BC Nature member clubs or other naturalist groups, plan, promote and deliver the event. Partnering up with other groups is always a great way to boost participation and spread out the work. Bird Studies Canada encourages all to register their event with them too. 
  • Select your survey area(s): CBC4Kids is all about getting kids and families excited about birds and help them learn more about nature in their community. As opposed to the adult Christmas Bird Count, the survey event does not have to follow any set guidelines. When selecting your survey area(s), consider the ages of the children (and how far they can walk), the number of bird survey guides and where you might see a variety of birds. If you have more than one group, it always makes for a great learning experience to have the groups discuss differences between survey sites (eg. a lake, the ocean or a meadow).
  • Deliver the event: On the day, one or more experienced birders show the participants how to identify local birdlife and use binoculars, then lead them outside to find and count birds. After their adventures, the children and their families go back inside (hot cocoa and cookies are always well received) and share their observations. NatureKids BC has found that a 1½ – 2-hour event is optimal for families.
  • Submit your results: Afterwards, the organizers submit the findings through an online checklist and reported to eBird, where they can be used in scientific research.

To learn more about the Christmas Bird Watch for Kids event, watch this video or visit Bird Studies Canada’s website to learn about other CBC4Kids events or how to organize your own event.

Get involved and join the fun!