Kentucky Ornithological Society

Midwinter Bird Count Information

The Kentucky Ornithological Society's Midwinter Bird Count is an annual early-winter bird statewide census. Those conducting these counts follow the same guidelines established for Audubon's Christmas Bird Counts (and the results of KOS Midwinter Bird Counts can be submitted to the National Audubon Society). Birders count every individual bird and bird species over one calendar day (from midnight to midnight). Each bird count area is a circle 15 miles in diameter -- approximately 177 square miles. Bird counters try to cover as much of the circle area as possible in one day, counting each individual bird and species they see or hear in their designated sector of the circle. Bird feeders within the circle can also be monitored. Why is the Midwinter Count important? Birds are indicators of the overall health of our environment. Bird count data over time in any given area can provide valuable insights into the long-term health of bird populations and the environment. Count data also reveal interesting and scientifically useful information on the early-winter distribution patterns of various bird species.  And besides, it's fun!

Similar counts are held throughout the western hemisphere. Over 49,000 people from all 50 states, every Canadian province, the Caribbean, Central and South America and the Pacific Islands (all areas where the breeding birds of North America spend their winter) participate in about 1800 counts.The Christmas Bird Count itself has evolved into the largest and longest-running wildlife survey ever undertaken. Count data are available through the Audubon Society's website.

Guidelines for Midwinter (and Christmas) Bird Counts include:

Everyone can participate in these counts - either by joining others in an already established count or by beginning your own! Information about some established counts can be found on the KOS Meetings, Field Trips, and Bird Counts page. If you'd like to participate in a Midwinter Bird Count but don't know if there is one in your area or if you know there is no count in your area & you would like to establish one, please contact either Blaine Ferrell or Gary Ritchison. Those wanting to initiate a new count will be responsible for organizing (e.g., determining the count area & count date, getting others to help, and establishing & coordinating parties) and compiling the results of the count.  Midwinter bird count forms can be obtained from Blaine Ferrell (Ogden College, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY 42101; Ph. 270-745-4448).

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