The Mourning Dove was a new species added in 2013 to the bird count's official checklist.

The bird count is back next month in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Seeking birds from dawn to dusk, armed with binoculars

You never know what you will see — the 24th Parksville Qualicum Beach Christmas Bird Count is planned for Sunday, Dec. 14.

The Christmas Bird Count has become a seasonal and family tradition for many nature enthusiasts and citizen scientists across North America. You may join a team in the field or count birds from home for the Feedercount.

Data is collected for the Audubon Society in the longest-running (115 years) wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations and to help guide conservation action. Bird Studies Canada is the supporting organization here in Canada.

Count results from 1900 to the present are available at www.birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count

Last year more than 2,408 count circles and 71,659 people tallied more than 66,243,371 birds. Counts took place in all U.S. states, all Canadian provinces and 107 count circles in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands.

In Canada, 291 species were tallied by 13,636 observers in 438 count circles.  B.C. had 100 count circles take part.

Here in the BCPQ Count Circle, teams of three to seven birders cover as much terrain as possible, dawn to dusk, armed with binoculars, spotting scopes and field guides.

Many teams take this opportunity to do some owling in the wee hours of the morning. A very helpful group of participants are the many private land owners that allow entry to their large acreages to count birds. The BCPQ Count Circle is a 24-km diameter circle centered near French Creek marina.

Compiler Sandra Gray said: “I hope to boost the number of participating feedercounters this year. I know there are hundreds of people within the Parksville Qualicum Beach Count Circle who buy bird seed, suet cakes and specialty feed for their feathered friends. It amounts to potentially thousands of resident and wintering birds to include in our census.”

For many feeding birds in their backyard has become a rewarding experience opening up a new world of discovery and a connection to nature.

Feedercount Checklists with instructions are available at Buckerfields in Parksville  or you can call Gray to have one e-mailed to you.

To join a team in the field, or if you have any questions, contact CBC Compiler Sandra Gray 250-248-5565.

— NEWS Staff/Submitted by Sandra Gray

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