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Photo by Tom Grey

Christmas Bird Count

Each December we participate in several Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) sponsored by the National Audubon Society. Organizations use data collected in this long-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations and to help guide conservation action. Read about how the data are used and about the histories of our counts.


In the SCVAS count, each of our four predefined count circles are divided into sectors by the count leader and teams are assigned to count birds in each sector. Counters with less experience are teamed with those more experienced. Even if beginning birders can't identify every bird, they provide important "extra eyes" in finding birds. A "countdown" dinner (donations to cover the food are gladly accepted!) is held on the evening of the count, where groups share their results and tell tales of the day.


Birders of all experience levels are needed to help with Christmas Bird Count. This annual Audubon tradition is the nation's longest-running citizen science bird project. We need YOU to keep it going! Pick a count area below and contact the coordinator for that region to get started. Participation is free and all are encouraged to join!


Publication of Results

Since 2012, National Audubon Society does not charge the small participant fee to publish CBC results. Instead, they now publish all CBC results online.

Click the link below for a full account of the species seen across the Santa Clara County count circles. Special thanks to Bonnie Bedford-White, who graciously offers to format this table each year. We appreciate your many hours of data entry and number-crunching!

2017 Santa Clara County Christmas Bird Count Data **Note: This data table was revised 3/12/2018 to correct a few errors in count numbers for San Jose and Palo Alto. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.**


2018 Christmas Bird Count Regions


Savannah Sparrow, 2016 San Jose CBC
by Mike Azevedo

San Jose - Sunday, December 16
Compiled and coordinated by Mike Azevedo -

Birders of all experience levels are welcome and needed. Bird identification skills are an asset but spotters (who just look for birds in the sky, trees, and bushes) and recorders (who tally the number of birds of each species) are also valuable! Some count all day, while others only take part for a few hours. The day is followed by the optional Countdown Dinner for those who are up to hearing stories of rare sightings from theirs and other groups. It is a great experience! If you are interested in participating, please contact Mike Azevedo at

Harris's Sparrow, 2017 Palo Alto CBC
by Don Pendleton

Palo Alto - Monday, December 17
Compiled and coordinated by Al Eisner -

This annual census covers a radius from the Bay to the Santa Cruz Mountains, with four regions in each of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. We welcome eager birders at any level of experience. To participate in the same region where you have counted previously, please contact your region coordinator soon. Note that Ann Hepenstal has taken over from Rob Furrow as coordinator for region 4 (Santa Clara County lowlands west of Hwy 101), and (for the second year) Chris O’Connell coordinates the corresponding San Mateo Co. region 3; if you do not know how to reach them, Al (below) can put you in touch. If you are new to this count or would like to explore a different region than before, please contact Al Eisner. To find you a good spot, we need to hear from you at least two weeks before the count (the sooner the better).
For Party Leaders: Download all the Palo Alto CBC forms and print with a good-quality printer or, if you can't print, contact Kelly Alfrey at to have the forms mailed to you. The Census Checklist should be printed single-sided and stapled; please clip (rather than staple) together the full set of forms. Begin by carefully reading Instructions to Party Leaders; contact Al Eisner if you have questions.
Census Checklist - please print single-sided and staple this checklist only

Vermillion Flycatcher, 2017 Calero-Morgan Hill CBC
by Beth Hamel

Calero-Morgan Hill - Saturday, December 29
Compiled and coordinated by Beth Hamel -

This is a perfect day to walk off those holiday meals (although we do end the day with a wonderful countdown dinner...) This count covers city and county parks, creeks, and reservoirs in mid-south Santa Clara County and Almaden area. Will the handsome Vermilion Flycatcher return to our circle? Is the Zone-tailed Hawk still here? Come count every Turkey Vulture to see! Last year’s special birds included a Red-naped Sapsucker, Grasshopper Sparrows, Lewis’s Woodpeckers, and Burrowing Owls. Volunteers are needed in the areas where those birds were spotted. If you are interested in participating, please contact Beth at



A Snowy 2016 Mount Hamilton CBC
by Bob Hirt

Mount Hamilton - Wednesday, January 2
Compiled and coordinated by Bob Hirt - (408) 821-2732 (cell)

We hope to have a great count again throughout the Mount Hamilton and San Antonio Valley area. Count leaders are especially needed. Please contact Bob Hirt at (408) 821-2732 (cell) - as soon as possible to participate.