Ontario Nature groups are hosting counts (ontarionature.org/cbc) across Ontario
Each year, bird lovers welcome winter by joining a Christmas Bird Count. It’s a great way to explore nature while helping our feathered friends, so why not make it a part of your holiday tradition?
The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900, and today it is North America’s longest-running wildlife census. The one-day bird census is conducted by volunteers of all ages and skill levels. Many local counts are organized by birding and nature clubs, and everyone is welcome to attend free of charge.
This year’s Christmas Bird Count will run from December 14, 2017 to January 5, 2018. Ontario Nature member groups are organizing at least 68 counts in the province this season. Visit the Ontario Nature website (ontarionature.org/cbc) to find a count near you.
To see a comprehensive list of counts happening in Canada, visit the Bird Studies Canada website (bsc-eoc.org/volunteer/cbc).
Always fun, even when it’s chilly, every volunteer who braves the elements to take part in a count contributes to the study and conservation of birds. Scientists use the data collected to monitor the health and status of resident and migratory birds over time, and to develop conservation strategies for species in decline and their habitats. The Christmas Bird Count also teaches citizen scientists about the myriad bird species that live in and migrate through their communities.
“The Christmas Bird Count is a great way for bird lovers of all ages to help Ontario’s birds. Novices work alongside experts to collect important data that help guide work on behalf of all birds across the province. And who knows… maybe you’ll see a rare bird that no one has recorded before,” says Emma Horrigan, Ontario Nature’s Conservation Science Coordinator.
Last year, 14,000 Canadians participated in nearly 500 Christmas Bird Counts across the country. A whopping three million individual birds were recorded. In Ontario, Ontario Nature member groups organized nearly 70 counts throughout the province.
Here are some highlights from last year’s Ontario counts:
Record numbers of American robins were counted throughout southern and eastern Ontario
A record 60 bald eagles were recorded during the Holiday Beach count near Windsor
The first ever tufted titmouse was observed in Owen Sound and a rare winter wren was recorded in Wiarton
Count participants tallied a record 55 common mergansers in Thunder Bay
Rare sightings in Ottawa included a fox sparrow, 2 harlequin ducks and a red-bellied woodpecker
What avian rarities and trends will we uncover this year?
Join a Christmas Bird Count to find out.
If you’re still not convinced that participating in a count is for you, many are followed by a social gathering and pot-luck meal.