The annual Christmas bird count happens every year from December 14th-January 5th. The Audubon Society hosts the nationwide/worldwide event, but the counts are done by local groups that convene on their own. You can search for a group near you on the Audubon website, or consider developing your own!
Each group does one count on whatever day they determine and sends their results into Audubon. The area to be surveyed is a 15mile radius determined by the group. It’s free to participate and your efforts help scientists and researchers learn more about bird populations.
The Christmas count traces its roots back to the year 1900. In the 1800’s, it was fashionable to go out and kill birds on Christmas day. This was done merely for sport to see who could kill the most! Sometimes the feathers were used for women’s hats, which was very fashionable as well. This is an example of how humans have exploited nature for sheer vanity.
In 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman and other conservationist associated with the Audubon Society promoted counting birds instead of hunting them. Every year since, there has been recorded bird counts, thanks Frank! Thankfully, mass hunting birds on Christmas day is no longer a cultural tradition. However there are many other reasons why bird populations are declining and this is why the citizen bird count is still so important to do.
If you’d rather count birds solo, then you can wait and join the annual Great Backyard Bird count which is President’s day weekend in February.
Here are some information links if you are interested in participating in the event.