Promoters of the annual Sooke bird count are again urging community residents to depart from their regular holiday activities and take to the great outdoors to meet our feathered friends.
The event takes place on Dec. 30 and involves hosts of avid birders and newcomers to the activity joining forces to catch sight of as many species as possible.
At the end of the day, the avian tallies are all submitted by group leaders to a central national database
That information and similar information gathered in the United States and around the world are then used to inform Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.
The long-term perspective is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to protect birds and their habitat in an era of climate change and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well.
“The information collected is very important, but for the participants, it’s also a way to connect back to nature and appreciate the rich natural diversity in our own backyards,” said Charlene Lloyd, one of the organizers of the event.
“This area, Whiffin Spit and Sooke in general, are great places to see coastal birds. We’ve actually had some very rare sightings over the years,” said Lloyd.
The annual bird count is structured to encourage new birders to take up the activity by pairing them with experienced bird enthusiasts.
“We have leaders who will divide up the areas to go around and see the birds and help out newcomers,” said Lloyd.
To join a group in Sooke, East Sooke or Metchosin one need only contact firstname.lastname@example.org,.
For those who prefer a more solitary pursuit of birding, there are resource materials available which, when combined with a pair of binoculars or a telescope can open up the world of birding to anyone.
People can volunteer by counting birds at their feeder that day and entering the tallies online at motmot26.wixsite.com/christmasbirdcount/feederwatch.
As for Lloyd, she’ll be out there on Dec. 30, doing her part to see as many birds as possible.
“I actually started birding about five years ago as a bet with a friend to see how many birds we could see. I knew that there were robins and crows out there but, once I got started, I was amazed at the number of bird species around us,” said Lloyd.
“It’s also a great way to get out in nature and see things you just can’t see looking at your devices indoors.”