Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Calls for Volunteers for 124th Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Bird CountImage via Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

PHILADELPHIA, PA — With the holiday season in full swing, the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation is extending an invitation to bird enthusiasts. The department is seeking volunteers for its annual Christmas Bird Count on December 16, 2023, at the Pennypack Environmental Center (PEC).

A cherished tradition, this year’s count marks the 124th Christmas Bird Count. The event is a nationwide initiative organized by the National Audubon Society in collaboration with organizations across the country. The PEC, located at 8600a Verree Road in Northeast Philadelphia’s Pennypack Park, has been an active participant in this event for over six decades.

Stephanie Robinson, an environmental education specialist at the center, will manage this year’s count. Retired EEPS, Peter Kurtz, will guide the experienced birders, while Stephanie will oversee the feeder watch activities and mini lessons.

The Christmas Bird Count was initiated by Frank Chapman, a leading ornithologist of the 20th Century, and other conservationists on December 25, 1900. This winter bird census was designed to raise awareness about declining bird populations. Instead of hunting birds on Christmas Day, volunteers stepped out to count different species of birds. Today, people worldwide participate in this event, collecting data for scientists.

While the Christmas Bird Count originally took place on Christmas Day, it now occurs between December 14 and January 5. Each count happens within an established 15-mile diameter circle, with birders assigned specific areas to count all the birds they see in a day.

The Pennypack Valley count circle encompasses Pennypack Park and Pennypack Ecological Trust in Huntington Valley. The count begins at 7 a.m. and continues late into the evening. Participation is free, but volunteers must register in advance.

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While binoculars are recommended, the environmental center will provide them for those who need it. The data collected during the count is used by scientists to monitor and study the health of different bird populations.

In addition to the count, the center is hosting additional programming for birders of all ages later in the day. From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., attendees can learn fun facts about winter birds and help count birds at the center.

For those interested in other Christmas Bird Counts in the region, information can be found with The Wyncote Audubon Society for a count near the Wissahickon Park, and Tacony Creek Park.

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