SMOOTH ROCK FALLS – Recently, tens of thousands of bird and winter enthusiasts rallied together to count millions of birds across the continent as part of the 119th year of this long-running wildlife survey. On Jan. 5, participants in Smooth Rock Falls took part in this fun winter tradition, many rising before dawn and counting birds until sunset!
“It was a great day!” exclaimed Angie Williams, who spearheaded the effort in Smooth Rock Falls. “We gathered for a chili lunch and compared notes. Our final species count was 14, nothing earth-shattering but I think it was a good representation of what birds are around this time of year. Our brand-new counters said they had fun and will take part again next year. All in all, I think it was a very successful first CBC in Smooth Rock.”
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 Smooth Rock Falls count include details on the number of birds of each species seen or heard within a local 24-km diameter circle. Surveying this circle year after year contributes valuable long-term information on how winter birds are faring, both in your locale 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,” says 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, 2.8 million birds of 287 species were counted by over 14,000 participants in 463 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 localities from Toronto, Ontario 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 1900 has turned into one of North America’s longest-running wildlife monitoring programs.