While many people are counting the days until their Christmas turkey dinner, flocks of volunteers throughout North America will be keeping tabs on our other feathered friends in the coming weeks.
More than 2,000 regions in North America participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count, a citizen science project with origins that date back to 1900, said Ann Nightingale, co-ordinator of the Victoria Count Circle. While the count started on this continent, it has spread to include locations around the world.
Victoria has one of the largest participation rates for the Christmas Bird Count in North America, Nightingale noted. “We had 285 people involved last year.
We currently hold the record for the most species recorded in a single day. I can’t remember the last time Victoria wasn’t in the top five.”
“Bird populations around the world are declining, so the data collected during the Christmas Bird Count provides valuable information,” said Nightingale, a participant in the past 18 Victoria Christmas Bird Counts. The event, co-ordinated by the Victoria Natural History Society, counts as many birds as possible in a specific area on a single day. Victoria’s count extends into Colwood, Langford and parts of Metchosin.
“There’s a need for more volunteer counters on the West Shore,” said Nightingale, Another count covers the area from roughly Happy Valley Road into Sooke, and the third one covers Sidney and south Salt Spring Island.
The Christmas Bird Count in Victoria takes flight on Saturday, Dec. 14, and spreads its wings to the Sidney area on Dec. 15 before landing in Sooke on Saturday, Dec. 28.
“Most years I wind up doing four, including Duncan,” Nightingale said regarding the Christmas counts.
Nightingale has also been involved with the Rocky Point Bird Observatory for 23 years, and currently serves as vice-president. She attended the Rio Grande Birding Festival in Texas for the ninth time in November.
For more information on the bird counts and how to volunteer, fly over to christmasbirdcount.ca.
You can email Nightingale at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org and she will put you in touch with the co-ordinator for that area.