The Christmas Bird Count

Brianne Kenny is Troon’s Manager of Environmental Science. She is an experienced Naturalist with a demonstrated history of working at multiple Troon-managed properties as well as recreational facilities in outreach/education.

With a passion for sustainability, urban ecology, and avian biology, Brianne has shown how golf courses can be valuable natural resources and positively impact the surrounding environment. One of her key outreaches includes bringing bird-watching groups to the golf course and demonstrating how the courses contribute to the ecology around us.

Over the holidays, Brianne participated in “The Christmas Bird Count.” Here were her findings.

Who: The National Audubon Society is in charge of the data collection but the count is open to anyone interested in helping out. It relies heavily on volunteers. Individuals from all types of organizations volunteer to serve as coordinators, team leaders, and observers. All skill levels participate

What: Bird surveys conducted throughout the country in specific site areas that are 15 mile diameter circles. The circles are typically split into 10 sub areas with a team leader in each of the ten coordinating smaller groups in specific locations.

Where: There are a map of circles here.

I helped out with three counts in Maricopa County and there were several courses participating (not all Troon in Carefree, but I contacted Mirabel and Legend Trail on behalf of Audubon and they allowed me on property to survey so that was pretty cool)

  1. Tres Rios (id#58396): Golf Club of Estrella
  2. Carefree (id#59403): Desert Forest, Terravita, The Boulders, Mirabel, Legend Trail, Rancho Manana, Dove Valley, Desert Mountain
  3. Lake Pleasant (id#56051): Blackstone CC When: Every year it takes place between December 14th-January 5th. Each count circle has a specific 24 hour period it does it within this time-frame.


  1. The data contributes to long-term studies of bird populations and how they have changed in time and space. It is used by Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies, universities, NGO’s and other interested entities.
  2. Getting golf courses involved increases community relations and it gave me an opportunity to discuss environmental efforts of golf courses with a group of people that don’t normally visit golf courses. There are compilation dinners at the end of the day where all the teams within the area come together to combine data. That was where I could discuss the golf industry with people from local parks, NGO’s, government agencies, universities, educators, etc. The data also speaks for itself when I can show on paper the diversity of bird species found throughout the golf courses. Additionally, some species found on the golf courses were the only sightings of those species within in the count so that showed how golf courses can supply habitat.

What came out of it:

  • For the Carefree count, there were two species spotted on golf courses that were found nowhere else in the count area (they were both a Mirabel though).
  • For the Lake Pleasant count, we were able to survey a portion of the count area that had not been surveyed in the count ever before, Blackstone CC, so that was a good contribution and the coordinator was super thankful for it. We spotted 36 species there.
  • For the Tres Rios count, we got around 29 species at Golf Club of Estrella which again was an area of the count that had not been surveyed before. We found two species they had never had in their sub-area before too.

Learn more about Brianne and her findings by following her on Instagram and Twitter!