New Brunswick‘s Christmas Bird Count data is now available in digital format.

Half century environmental databases are not common, but New Brunswick‘s CBC data provides 50-plus years of province-wide data on resident bird populations during a unique part of each year – the darkest and coldest part. Data covers the Bay of Fundy, the Atlantic Coast, and the southern edge of Canada’s Boreal Forest. There are also scattered data points back to 1900.

This database is widely known to exist, but is equally thought of as being almost inaccessible for research purposes.

Every count’s results, as published in the NB Naturalist and elsewhere, are the foundation of the database, but data in thousands of PDF files is challenging to research. Thankfully, David Christie, provincial CBC compiler for many years, has done a lot of the digitization work.

New Brunswick’s digitized CBC data, based on the published reports, is in two formats:

  1. 1900 to 2000 – 65+ count areas, each with their historical data up to 2000
  2. 2000 to present – annual provincial compilations with complete results from each New Brunswick count that year (some compilations from prior to 2000 as well)

This complete but two-part database was recognized only in 2023. There are examples of it below and Nature NB is working to get the full database online.

Count Area Data (examples)

Grand Manan

Île Lamèque

Mount Carleton


Annual Compilation Data (examples)



Methods for enhancing the database into a research grade, searchable format, like Audubon, are being assessed. With bird populations being a key indicator of many situations in their environment, such an upgrade would enable easier answers to many questions.

Interested by all this? Support may be available to those with an interest in helping to upgrade the database. Relevant experience certainly an asset. Strong spreadsheet skills useful too.

Almost 6.5 million birds trapped for decades in pdfs must have a few stories to tell us!

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