If you are an experienced birder and CBC volunteer you may apply to your coordinator to lead a field party. Most field parties cover the same established routes every year, but there are areas not yet covered. A field party consists of at least two volunteers; solo participants are permitted only in special circumstances and at the discretion of the coordinators.
The field party leaders are responsible for keeping the checklist and measuring the time and distance values. Why do we record time and distance values? The short answer is here. Please carry a copy of the field checklist, available from your coordinator or this website.
Party leaders must record the:
• Total number of each species found;
• Elapsed time spent on foot;
• Elapsed time spent in cars;
• Elapsed time by other conveyance, e.g. boat, skis, bicycle. Please specify.
• Miles traveled on foot;
• Miles traveled in cars—check your odometer;
• Miles traveled by other conveyance, e.g. boat, skis, bicycle. Please specify.
• The names of and contact information for all members of your field party.
• Mark your checklist Daylight for daytime birding or Nocturnal, if owling.
• Owlers, please combine your foot and car miles into a single total.
All counting must be done within the midnight to midnight time frame on count day and inside the boundaries of our circle. Birds seen outside the boundary may not be counted.
For the purposes of this census the unit of labor is the field team or party, not the individual. Whether a field party is composed of two or ten participants makes no difference in your reporting of time spent afield and distance traveled. If your field party travels in several cars the distance should be measured by one car. Each party submits one checklist.
Estimating your walking distance is permitted, but there are ways to improve your estimates. (Field parties with map and travel distance apps on smartphones may skip to the next paragraph.) Tracing your route on a map with a legend is helpful. If you have Google Earth skills zoom in on your area and from the menu bar go to Tools>Ruler>Path, set Length to miles, and mouse-click your journey from your starting point to its end. A pedometer is also useful. Your travel distance will not likely exceed 1 or 1.5 miles per hour spent in the field.
Your feeder birds are counted separately. However, feeder counts taken in the field are folded into your field participants’ checklist. Verify that these feeders are not already the subjects of a feeder watch.
We encourage party leaders to walk their routes the weekend or week before the count and see what species they may likely encounter on Count Day. This is not required.
If you leave your field party and count your feeder birds at home you must submit a separate feeder watchers’ checklist. You may wear two hats, but not at the same time.
For information about Count Week, owling, rare bird reporting, and using audio please go to the Join a Field Party page on this website.