The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is the longest-running community science project in the United States, started by ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, who saw the value in counting birds instead of shooting them, which had been a Christmas Day tradition in the late 1800s. According to data from the National Audubon Society, in 1900, 27 birders participated in the first ever CBC, and last year for the 120th bird count, more than 81,600 participants counted birds across North and South America. The 121st count is in full swing, having started December 14th and ending January 5th. So far 1,737,549 birds have been counted in the 2020 CBC.
The Missouri Master Naturalists Hi Lonesome Chapter sponsors the Cole Camp Prairies Important Bird Area count, which includes MPF’s prairies in Pettis County. This has been an active count circle since 2009, and the 2020 count was conducted on December 28th. A quick glance at eBird checklists from the area show the expected winter-time birds were in attendance at Drovers’ Prairie and Friendly Prairie, including northern harriers, a variety of sparrows, meadowlarks, a Lapland longspur, and more.
Photo above of meadowlarks at MPF’s Linden’s Prairie by R. S. Kinerson