Christmas Bird Count:
Another Way to #NurtureNative

As our regular readers know, Little Red Wagon Native Nursery loves to nurture all things native. To that end, we’re highlighting one of the longest running citizen scientist programs in the world: the Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count. Conceived as an alternative to the side hunt – a popular Christmas Day tradition in the late 1800’s during which teams competed to kill as many birds and small animals as possible – the Christmas Bird Count is an early-winter bird census.

With over 120 years of data, this highly orchestrated and scientifically driven program provides insights into the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America and helps inform conservation efforts.

Unfortunately, according to Audubon, scientists who have studied the data have concluded that climate change and spreading urbanization will impact the ability of birds to find food and reproduce. They have also concluded that highly and moderately vulnerable birds may lose more than half of their current range. Similarly, the American Bird Conservancy reports that we’ve lost 2.9 billion breeding adult birds from the US and Canada since 1970.

For those of us in Hillsborough County, the Audubon has identified 34 species as vulnerable. These species include:

High Vulnerability Species

  • Snail Kite
  • Red-headed Woodpecker
  • Gray Kingbird
  • Fish Crow
  • Brown Thrasher
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Boat-tailed Grackle
  • Yellow-throated Warbler

Moderate Vulnerability Species

  • Canada Goose
  • White-crowned Pigeon
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Northern Flicker
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
  • Yellow-throated Vireo
  • Bachman’s Sparrow
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Northern Parula
  • Prairie Warbler

Low Vulnerability Species

  • Wood Duck
  • Mottled Duck
  • King Rail
  • Clapper Rail
  • Least Tern
  • Caspian Tern
  • Sandwich Tern
  • Swallow-tailed Kite
  • Bald Eagle
  • Short-tailed Hawk
  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Florida Scrub-Jay
  • American Crow
  • Common Grackle
  • Common Yellowthroat

Birds are an important part of a healthy ecosystem and provide services that include insect control, pollination, seed dispersal, nutrient cycling and more. A loss of any of these birds from our area could have unforeseen consequences.

Why not help them?

Simple steps to help include making your windows safer, keeping your cats indoors, planting native plants, and avoiding the use of pesticides.

Audubon’s 122nd Christmas Bird Count runs until January 5. If you want to learn more about the experience, National Geographic has a great article about the event and more locally, you can read the results from a recent Florida count here. If you want to jump in with both feet and volunteer, Tampa Bay Audubon has a count scheduled for January 1, 2022. Contact the lead, David Bowman (Dsbowman4@verizon.net) to learn more.

Remember: #NurtureNative and help save the world.