Philadelphia Parks & Recreation is seeking volunteers for its annual Christmas Bird Count. This year’s event will be held at Pennypack Environmental Center (PEC). It takes place on December 16, 2023.

This is the 124rd Christmas Bird Count. The National Audubon Society organizes the event annually. Audubon partners with organizations across the country to complete the count.

Pennypack Environmental Center is located at 8600a Verree Road in Pennypack Park in Northeast Philadelphia. It has participated in the count for over 60 years.

Parks & Rec’s Stephanie Robinson is managing this year’s count. Stephanie is an environmental education specialist at the center. Retired EEPS, Peter Kurtz, will lead the bird count with the experienced birders. Stephanie will host the feeder watch activities and mini lessons.

Stephanie provided the following information:

What is the Christmas Bird Count?

The Christmas Bird Count was started by Frank Chapman. He was one of most influential ornithologist of the 20th Century.

Frank and other conservationists started the Bird Count on December 25, 1900. Organizers started the winter bird census to raise awareness about declining bird populations. Instead of hunting birds on Christmas Day, volunteers went outside to count the different species of birds. Now, people around the world gather to count birds and collect data for scientists.

Although the count originally took place on Christmas Day, it now happens on a range of dates. Generally, it takes place between December 14 and January 5. Event organizers or compilers select one day during that time to count birds.

Does it cost anything to take part?  

No. Participation is free, but volunteers must register in advance.

How does it work?

Each count takes place in an established 15-mile diameter circle. Organizers assign birders to a specific area to count all the birds they see that day.

When and where does the count take place in Pennypack Park?

The Pennypack Valley count circle is a 15-mile radius. It includes Pennypack Park and Pennypack Ecological Trust in Huntington Valley. View historical results for the Pennypack Valley.  The count begins at 7 a.m. and goes late into the evening. Experienced birders can email or call the Pennypack Environmental Center to register. 

Is any special equipment required?

It’s helpful to have a pair of binoculars! Participants can borrow binoculars from the environmental center.

How is the information used?

Scientists use the data collected to determine how birds are doing. It allows scientists to monitor and study the health of different bird populations.

If I don’t feel like counting birds, are there other bird-related activities?

Yes! The center is hosting additional programming for birders of all ages later in the day. Attendees can learn fun facts about winter birds and help count birds at the center from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Register now for this event. 

How do I find out information about other Christmas Bird Counts in the region?

If you are looking for a Christmas Bird Count near the Wissahickon Park or the Tacony Creek Park, see the events below. To find other Christmas Bird Counts, visit The National Audubon Society. 


Wildlife Walk

December 14, 2023
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Pennypack Environmental Center-8600a Verree Road, 19115.

Enjoy a morning walk in search of birds and other wildlife. Learn more about this free event on Facebook.

Christmas Bird Count

December 16, 2023
8 a.m. to 12 p.m
Tacony Creek-Ramona Avenue and I Street, 19120.

Organized by the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford TTF Watershed Partnership.  
Be a part of the Wyncote Audubon bird count in Tacony Creek Park. Join bird experts Robin Irizarry and Martin Selzer for a 4-mile walk. Learn more and register for this free event. 

Christmas Bird Count at Andorra Natural Area

December 16, 2023
8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Wissahickon Environmental Center (Treehouse)-300 W Northwestern Avenue, 19118.

Calling all birders. Volunteers are needed for Wyncote Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count. The count circle will include the environmental center’s grounds, Andorra Meadow, and the surrounding forest. Register for this free event on Eventbrite. 

Noon Bird Walk

December 20,2023
12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Wissahickon Environmental Center– 300 W. Northwestern Avenue, 19118.

The winter is a great time for birding. Enjoy a guided walk in the Andorra Natural Center during lunchtime. Visit Facebook for more information about this free event.


The National Audubon Society's website has the answers.