Golden Gate Audubon To Conduct Annual Christmas Bird Counts Around the Bay

More than 200 avid Bay Area birders will fan out over San Francisco to count all the birds they see in a single day.

San Francisco, CA. — On December 29, from before dawn until dusk, hundreds of hardy birders will trek through parks, neighborhoods, wetlands, and woods to count birds.

WHAT: 2009 Christmas Bird Count (CBC)

WHERE: San Francisco

WHEN: Tuesday, December 29

WHY: To provide insight into the past and present status and health of our bird populations and the general health of our environment, as well as being a social, sporting, and competitive event.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dan Murphy, 415.564.0074

SPONSORS: San Francisco – Golden Gate Audubon and Presidio Trust

Some will venture onto the bay in kayaks and boats. Others will traverse city streets, cross remote streams and creeks, and skirt reservoirs and bay mudflats, with their binoculars and scopes trained on trees, bushes, buildings, wires, poles, land, water, and sky. They will call out the names and numbers of birds they see at every site and carefully record them. Then the count participants will gather at the end of the day over dinner to tally their results and share stories of their day in the field.

“For Bay Area birders, these two Christmas counts are an integral part of the holiday season,” says Oakland co-organizer Dave Quady. “A great day of birding, then a fine compilation dinner, friends sharing adventures in the field, then telling stories of rare birds over dessert – what could be finer?”

Coordinated by the National Audubon Society, nearly 60,000 people participated in more than 2,100 counts on three continents last year, the 109th year of Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs). Each count attempts to identify and record every individual bird encountered within a defined 15-mile-diameter circle — about 177 square miles — during one calendar day. Golden Gate Audubon sponsors the Oakland count and co-sponsors the San Francisco counts with the Presidio Trust.  Both counts finished among the top 31 in North America in numbers of species found, with 172 or more species in each. Oakland attracted 189 field observers, the fourth-highest number worldwide; San Francisco’s 117 bird counters placed it among the 18 highest in the world.

“Christmas Bird Counts combine many of the things Golden Gate Audubon stands for,” says Executive Director Mark Welther. “It’s a fine day where everyday bird-watchers become citizen scientists, contributing data that helps everyone understand Bay Area birdlife and its habitat a little better, capped off with a wonderful dinner.”

Location Details

The San Francisco CBC circle extends from the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge to San Bruno Avenue in San Bruno.  The teams cover the wetlands just north of the San Francisco International Airport, arcing west to Sharp Park and north to include the parks, open space, and neighborhoods of the north peninsula.

Christmas Bird Count History

Christmas Bird Counts began in the northeast United States on December 25, 1900, when 27 bird-watcher/conservationists in 25 localities, led by scientist Frank Chapman, changed the course of ornithological history.  On that day, they created an alternative to the “side hunt,” a long-standing Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals.  Instead of hunting, Chapman was determined to identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, thus founding a conservation effort that has grown exponentially over the last 109 years.  Locally, Christmas Bird Counts have been conducted most years in San Francisco since the first in 1915 and in Oakland since 1938.

The data collected at each count are sent to the National Audubon Society. CBC results from 1900 to the present are available to all at  Generated entirely by volunteers, these data are a crucial part of this country’s natural history monitoring database.  For over a century, the Christmas Bird Count has provided valuable insight into the past and present status and health of our bird populations and the general health of our environment, as well as being a social, sporting, and competitive event.

About Golden Gate Audubon

Golden Gate Audubon has been dedicated to protecting Bay Area birds, other wildlife, and their natural habitat since 1917. We conserve and restore wildlife habitat, connect people of all ages and backgrounds with the natural world, and educate and engage Bay Area residents in the protection of our shared, local environment.

About the Presidio Trust

The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to administer the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The areas under management include expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. The Presidio Trust’s mission is to preserve and enhance the Presidio as an enduring resource for the American public.

Contact and for more information:

Dan Murphy (San Francisco count):, 415.564.0074 (home) or 415.342.7306 (cell)

Mark Welther, Executive Director:, 510.843.2222