Leading a local community in appreciating, understanding, and protecting birds and their natural habitats.

Cedar Waxwing by Tom Sanders


Registration for the 2019 Seattle Christmas Bird Count will open Nov. 1st

The 2019 Christmas Bird Count and Feeder Watch will take place on December 28, 2019. If you have questions regarding the Seattle Christmas Bird Count, contact the CBC Coordinator.

Seattle Christmas Bird Count 2018: THANK YOU

The 2018 Seattle Christmas Bird count was held on a windy and rainy day. Intrepid CBC-ers persisted, though, and despite the weather was yet again a massive success due to the amazing numbers of people who came out into the field to count birds or counted birds at their home feeders. For the third year running, participation was high with over 300 people taking part, making the Seattle count one of the 3 largest counts in North America. The field count tallied nearly 47,000 individual birds, of 117 species. The number of Feeder Watchers continues to grow, with 88 people taking part this year, recording nearly 2,500 individual birds, contributing over 5% of all the birds counted on the day. We hope to continue growing the number of feeder watchers in order to record all those birds that call Seattle backyards home. Thank you to all who took part and made the 2018 Seattle CBC such a great event for birds and nature.

View the full results and species list prepared by Seattle CBC compiler Matt Bartels.


What is the Christmas Bird Count?

Established in 1900, the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is the longest running citizen science survey in North America. Seattle Audubon has coordinated the Seattle CBC for nearly nine decades! Approximately 200 volunteers survey the count circle (15 miles in diameter) centered in downtown Seattle, to identify and count anything with feathers and a pulse. There are 14 sections within the Seattle count circle, each being covered by one or multiple teams of volunteer surveyors. All results are tallied by a count compiler and submitted to the National Audubon Society. These data are incorporated into very important research, like the State Of The Birds report and the National Audubon Society's Birds and Climate Change Report.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need to be an expert birdwatcher to participate?

Experienced birders, beginner twitchers, neighborhood residents, and newcomers are all welcome to take part in the count. It's a great way to be introduced to birdwatching. New birdwatchers will be surprised to learn that over 120 species are regularly tallied during the all-day event. Total novice? Don't worry, all volunteers are assigned to teams led by experienced birdwatchers who are familiar with their areas and the avian species that reside there.

When is it?

The Seattle CBC takes place on the last Saturday in December. Next year the count will take place on December 28, 2019. Count teams meet at around dawn (with some teams listening for owls in the pre-dawn darkness) and continue counting until late afternoon. On the evening of the count, CBC participants converge to compile the official species list for the day and enjoy a warm soup potluck. There is always a surprise sighting or two! Volunteers are always needed for potluck set-up and clean-up duties. Please contact the Community Engagement Manager to volunteer.

WANTED: Feeder Watchers

Don't want to, or can't leave the warmth of your home? Only have a spare 30 mins available? Have a young family that wants to take part? If your home is within the Seattle CBC circle you can still take part in the count by reporting the birds that visit your bird feeder/s and yard. Simply choose "CBC Feeder Watch Participant" in the Register section of the registration form. Check out this map to ensure your feeder and yard are within the Seattle CBC circle boundary.

Find instructions and tips on how to conduct your Feeder Watch, in this useful guide. Use this datasheet to record your bird observations. Follow this link for a full expanded species list.

How do I submit my Feeder Watch data?

Please submit your data using the online datasheet found hereIf you have any questions, please reach out to the CBC Coordinator. Completed paper datasheets can also be turned in at one of the CBC Potlucks, or hand delivered to the Nature Shop. To ensure inclusion with the rest of the CBC data, please submit your data to Seattle Audubon by January 3rd.

How much does it cost?

The CBC is a free program. However, Seattle Audubon kindly asks you to donate the traditional $5.00 fee to Seattle Audubon’s citizen science programs. Simply add your donation during the CBC registration process or click the “Donate” button on the top left of this page.

What should I bring on the day of the count?

Dress for the weather! Surveyors will go out, rain, shine or snow. Layers are strongly encouraged with a waterproof jacket and/or pants. Warm hats, socks and gloves are a must. Some areas require more walking, others more driving, so please wear appropriate footwear. Fluids, snacks and a sack lunch are also important. Binoculars will not be provided, so please bring your own.

CBC Potluck

Once the count is complete, volunteers can gather with other leaders and counters at one of the CBC potlucks to listen to the preliminary species results over a bowl of warm soup. For the 2018 count we are offering two potlucks, one will take place at the Wedgwood Presbyterian Church hall (map), the other in Margie's Cafe at the Senior Center of West Seattle (map):

Seattle Potluck
Wedgwood Presbyterian Church
8008 35th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115

West Seattle Potluck
Senior Center of West Seattle
4217 SW Oregon St., Seattle, WA 98116

Doors open at 4 p.m. if you’d like to warm up a little early; the potlucks end at 7 p.m. Potluck attendees are asked to RSVP during their CBC registration and indicate whether they will bring a dessert, salad or willing to help set-up or clean-down after the potluck.

Other Resources

Seattle Christmas Bird Count Final Tally Sheet lists all the bird species that are potentially encountered during the Seattle CBC - updated Oct 2017

Other Christmas Bird Counts in Washington State (approx. 36 total taking place annually all over the state, Dec 14 through Jan 5)

National Audubon Christmas Bird Count (learn more about the history and run a custom analysis of the CBC data!)

View online map showing all 2,400+ count circles

Past Media Coverage

"Seattle Audubon's Christmas bird count draws fans of all levels, from newbies to sighting superstars" Christy Karras, Seattle Times Magazine, February 15, 2019

"Nature is still everywhere: Bird counters find wonder amid Seattle's towers, dog parks and playfields" Lynda Mapes, Seattle Times, January 1, 2018

"People, birds meet for annual Christmas tally" Maddy Lauria, Seattle Times, December 30, 2017

"Tips for Beginner Bird Watchers" Caroline Craighead, Seattle Magazine, December 2017

"Tallying winter's wings: cormorants, crows, mallards and more" Alan Berner, Seattle Times, January 2, 2017.

"Seattle Audubon to hold Christmas Bird Count" Madeline Mckenzie, Seattle Times, December 18, 2016.

"Pikes/Pines - Capitol Hill's Christmas Bird Count" Brendan McGarry, Capitol Hill Times, December 21, 2014.

"Christmas bird count" Colin Ditz, Seattle Times, December 28, 2013.

"Seattle bird lovers stroll out for Christmas count" Emily Heffter, Seattle Times, December 31, 2011.

"The Nerd Issue: Seattle's Beloved Geek Festivals" (Outdoor section) Anna Samuels, Seattle Magaazine, February 2011

"Christmas Bird Count is bird-watchers' annual delight" Lynda V. Mapes, Seattle Times, December 21, 2009.

"Birders scan treetops and underbrush in an annual count that began 108 years ago" Craig Welch, Seattle Times, December 30, 2007.

Search Seattle Times archives for "Christmas Bird Count"

"Two Mourning Doves: The Christmas Bird Count" Weekday with Steve Scher on KUOW. Aired December 26, 2007 at 10am.

"Crunch of boot, flash of feather, call of "PISHHHHH" at annual bird count" Nancy Bartley, Seattle Times, December 31, 2006

Questions? Media inquiries?

Contact: Toby Ross, Senior Science Manager at 206-523-8243 x102 or email.


Back to top

Read results from past Seattle CBCs

2012 CBC Report

2013 CBC Report

2014 CBC Report

2015 CBC Report

2016 CBC Report

2017 CBC Report

2018 CBC Report













                          Learn more about birds on the SAS Science pages


Citizen Science Science Resources
Citizen Science Resources
Contact Science Manager
Seattle Audubon is nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Copyright Seattle Audubon.