Birdwatchers to participate in annual count

The Christmas Bird Count begins next week.

By Jenny Coleshill, Submitted to the Gazette

Another Christmas Bird Count season is around the corner! Between Dec. 14, 2017 and Jan. 5, 2018, tens of thousands of bird and winter enthusiasts will rally together to count millions of birds across the continent as part of the 118th year of this long-running wildlife survey. On Dec. 16, participants in Grand Forks will take part in this fun winter tradition, many rising before dawn and counting birds until sunset!

Each year, Bird Studies Canada and the National Audubon Society help coordinate and support the efforts of more than 2500 counts throughout the Western Hemisphere. Christmas Bird Counts are run across Canada and the United States, as well as in Latin America, the Caribbean, and some Pacific Islands. Data collected during the Grand Forks area count include details on the number of birds of each species seen or heard within a local 24 kiloemetre diametre circle. Surveying this circle year after year contributes valuable long-term information on how winter birds are faring, both locally and across the country.

Novice or experienced, the Christmas Bird Count is for everyone. Whether you like exploring forests, fields, and waters in search of lingering migrants, or prefer counting feeder birds from your window with a warm mug in hand, the Christmas Bird Count offers diverse opportunities for participation. No matter how you contribute, all Christmas Bird Count observations are used to study the health of winter bird populations over time and guide conservation strategies to help birds and their habitats.

“Every Christmas Bird Count participant is an important part of this valuable project for birds,” said Liz Purves, Bird Studies Canada’s Christmas Bird Count coordinator. “Whether you participate for bird conservation, for some friendly birding competition, or for an excuse to get outside in the winter, your efforts are meaningful for birds.”

The skills and dedication of thousands of volunteer citizen scientists harnessed during the Christmas Bird Count achieve incredible results that professional scientists and wildlife biologists could never accomplish alone.

During last year’s count in Canada, over 3 million birds of 278 species were counted by 14,000 participants in 447 counts across the country. Counts were conducted across diverse habitat types in each of Canada’s provinces and territories – from coast to coast to coast!

The Christmas Bird Count took root over a century ago when 27 birders in 25 locations from Toronto, Ont. to Pacific Grove, California, led by ornithologist Frank Chapman, proposed a conservation-oriented alternative to the traditional ‘side hunt,’ a Christmas Day competition to hunt the most birds and small mammals. This alternative initiative to identify, count, and record all the birds found on Christmas Day in 1900 has turned into one of North America’s longest-running wildlife monitoring programs.

For more information about the Christmas Bird Count, or to find the location of additional counts, visit Bird Studies Canada’s website at www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/cbc. For more information on the bird count in Grand Forks, contact Jenny Coleshill at 240-442-7969 or jenny.coleshill@granbywilderness.ca.

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