This article is from the current issue of Bird Studies Canada.
An interesting point is that this was intended to replace what was called the “Christmas Side Hunt.” This was an event where teams went out to kill as many animals as could be found. The team with the biggest pile of dead things at the end of the day was the winner. Arn’t we glad we are past those days?
The Christmas Bird Count was proposed as an alternative to the then-popular, and now seemingly insane, Christmas side hunt. The side hunt involved one or more teams – or “sides” – going out into the fields, woods, and waterways and blasting away at whatever living things they could find. The side with the greatest pile of feathers and fur at the end of the day was declared the winner. With activities like this, some people in both North America and Europe were starting to realize that the survival of the human species depended on the protection of other species.”
It was 9 a.m. on Christmas morning 1900. That was the moment when, according to National Audubon Society data, “Wm. H. Moore of Scotch Lake, York County, New Brunswick” became Canada’s first Christmas Bird Counter.
After stepping out the door of his farmhouse that morning, Wm. H. did what Christmas Bird Counters do today. He noted the temperature, the cloud cover and the wind. And then he started to count birds. Not just the number of species, but the number of individuals of each species as well.