Birders are wanted for the annual Audobon Society Christmas Bird Counts in the region. Jaffray-Wardner — Thursday December 15, Cranbrook — Wednesday December 28, Kimberley — Wednesday January 4. Bald Eagle photo by Claude Rioux

Birders are wanted for the annual Audobon Society Christmas Bird Counts in the region. Jaffray-Wardner — Thursday December 15, Cranbrook — Wednesday December 28, Kimberley — Wednesday January 4. Bald Eagle photo by Claude Rioux

Calling all birders: Christmas bird counts are near

The Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count is a long standing exercise in citizen science

Daryl Calder

Birders always anticipate the arrival of December.

Between December 14 and January 5, tens of thousands of bird and winter enthusiasts will rally together to count millions of birds across the continent.

The Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count is a long standing exercise in citizen science in the East Kootenay. This is the 123rd year in North America.

Novice or experienced, the Christmas Bird Count is for everyone. Whether you like exploring forests, fields and waters in search of 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.

Please visit the Rocky Mountain Naturalists website www.rockymountainnaturalists.org and click on Christmas Bird Counts.

Here you will find a wealth of information on all aspects of the counts, present and recent past.

Dark-eyed Junco photo by Claude Rioux

Dark-eyed Junco photo by Claude Rioux

It is important to sign up for any of the East Kootenay counts. This way you can get in touch with the Count Leader who will decide which team you will join. Our 24 kilometre diameter count circles are divided into four quadrants, and each quadrant has its own team.

If you are a beginning birder, you will be able to join a group which includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. It is a good opportunity to socialize with other bird enthusiasts.

Each team of about four needs drivers, a recorder, spotters and someone who can leaf through a bird guidebook, app or checklist to verify the accuracy of each particular sighting. When we have arrived at the starting point, we tend to hop out to look and listen, take short, quiet walks and drive short distances. Sometimes large flocks of birds are seen; several ‘counter/estimators’ are beneficial to provide accurate information. Telephoto images are very helpful too.

Again, to participate in the ‘field count’ or to become a ‘feeder watcher’, please go to the Rocky Mountain Naturalist Christmas Bird Count page. You must contact the leader and make arrangements in advance of Count Day.

Local Count Dates are:

• Jaffray – Wardner, Thursday December 15;

• Cranbrook Wednesday, December 28;

• Kimberley Wednesday, January 4;

Also, Bird Counts are hosted by local clubs in Windermere, Fernie and Creston.

For more information regarding Christmas Bird Counts, or to find the location of additional counts, visit Bird Studies Canada’s website at www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/cbc

Prepared by Daryl Calder on behalf of Rocky Mountain Naturalists Club

Red-breasted Nuthatch photo by Claude Rioux

Red-breasted Nuthatch photo by Claude Rioux