Pine Grosbeaks are our largest finches and a welcome sight in the winter. The males are a showy pinkish red, with younger, immature males often sporting shades of orange, while the females are grey with yellow or russet tones on the head and rump. They eat mostly seeds, buds and fruits of various trees, shrubs and other plants and will visit feeders at this time of year. Helga Knote photo

Pine Grosbeaks are our largest finches and a welcome sight in the winter. The males are a showy pinkish red, with younger, immature males often sporting shades of orange, while the females are grey with yellow or russet tones on the head and rump. They eat mostly seeds, buds and fruits of various trees, shrubs and other plants and will visit feeders at this time of year. Helga Knote photo

Annual Christmas Bird Count is coming up

Soon it will be time to participate in a Christmas Bird Count near you.

Daryl Calder

‘Soon it will be time to participate in a Christmas Bird Count near you.’

In the Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) conducted every year by amateur birders in the western hemisphere, we have a valuable source of data on winter bird populations. The institution dates to an unpretentious origin in 1900. Since then, the counts have engaged a steadily growing number of enthusiastic volunteers.

Birds Canada sponsors the Canadian CBC and provides advice on ways to remain safe despite the pandemic. The restrictions of the pandemic cannot diminish the enjoyment of counting birds, hoping for a rarity, and connecting, even in a limited way, with fellow birders.

A new appreciation is developing for watching birds in backyards and neighborhoods, recruiting new people into the world of birding and increasing knowledge in areas previously overlooked. More time spent at home may also inspire people to enhance their properties with native plants providing important food and cover for birds. Plants which provide late season berries, seeds and shelter can keep bird activity going into fall and winter.

Our region holds endless possibilities for discovery. This is particularly true during migrations and in winter, when birding holds a high element of unpredictability.

The ground rules for conducting Christmas Counts are established by the National Audubon Society. Every count must be completed within the 24-hour span of a calendar day. The day chosen must be within a two-week period surrounding Christmas, and each area censused must be contained within a circle of 12 km radius around a specific location. Different counts are thus comparable as to season, duration, and area of coverage, but differ with respect to geographic location, types of habitat available, weather and intensity of coverage.

This year, there will be no car-pooling for field counters and count observations will be gathered by email. Feeder watchers report as usual via phone or email.

Please consider participating in the 121st Christmas Bird Counts in the East Kootenay. The Rocky Mountain Naturalists always welcome participants of all abilities. Our very dedicated ‘count compiler’ and organizer, Dianne Cooper, will ensure that everyone who wants to participate will have a chance to contribute in a meaningful way.

Pre-registration (required) to be a ‘Feeder watcher’ and/or ‘Field counter’ must be done via our website: Rocky Mountain Naturalists.org (http://www.rockymountainnaturalists.org/christmas-bird-counts.html) well in advance of the December 26th Cranbrook count, and the January 3rd Kimberley count.