When local birders take to the fields and marshes for the annual Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 16, organizer Sandra Gray wants to make sure there is a strong contingent who stay home to keep an eagle eye on their bird feeders as well.
“I am determined to boost the number of participating Feeder counters this year,” Gray said. “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. Feeder count Checklists with instructions are available at Buckerfields in Parksville after Dec. 1. This will be the 22nd annual bird count, which sees volunteers fan out across the area to count both the number of species and the number of individual birds.
Gray said the Christmas Bird Count has become a seasonal and family tradition for many.
“Last year’s count shattered records. A total of 2,248 counts and 63,227 people tallied over 60 million birds. Counts took place in all 50 states, all Canadian provinces, plus 99 count circles in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands,” she said. “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 also take this opportunity to do some owling in the wee hours of the morning, owling is always a challenge but can be very rewarding.”
Data is collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations, and to help guide conservation action. Count results from 1900 to the present are available at http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count.
To join a team in the field or if you have any questions contact CBC Compiler Sandra Gray 250-248-5565.
— Submitted by CBC