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Participants welcome to join Christmas Bird Counts

If you notice a group of people observing your bird feeders with binoculars you could be seeing a Christmas Bird Count team at work.

Prince Edward County birders join peers from across North America to monitor the status and distribution of bird populations in the late stages of southward migration. Data collected helps show how the continent’s bird populations have changed and local trends can indicate habitat fragmentation, or signal an environmental threat.

JoAnne Sulzenko birdwatching at Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory.

All birds seen or heard are counted from dawn to dusk within a 24-km circle that stays the same from year-to-year. The goal for each team is to count as many birds as possible within a designated area. Birds at feeders help boost the numbers, so teams are always on the lookout for backyard bird feeders.

Migration monitoring has been conducted in in the County by the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory for more than 20 years. Over that time volunteers have spotted and collected data on about seven million birds of 273 species. One of the rarest birds in Ontario – the endangered Henslow’s Sparrow – lives at Ostrander Point.

The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 and is North America’s longest-running ‘citizen science’ project. It’s a program of Audubon and Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada. The idea has spread across the continent and beyond. The data is invaluable for researching bird population changes over the years.

Prince Edward County has two Christmas Bird Counts.

The Prince Edward Point Christmas Bird Count was started in 1977. It covers an area stretching from Hay Bay, south to Prince Edward Point and from Chuckery Hill Road, east to Cressy Point. The date of this count is Saturday, Dec. 16th.

The Sandbanks Christmas Bird Count is relatively new. The area includes Wellington, Bloomfield, Milford, Point Petre, Cherry Valley, Sandbanks and all points in between. The date is Tuesday Dec. 19th.

If you live in either of those areas and you have a bird feeder, you are welcome to participate. Simply count the maximum number of birds you see at any one time and record the highest number. For instance, if you saw six blue jays in the morning, four at noon and five in the afternoon, write down the highest number, “six blue jays”. Then e-mail your list to the count organizer along with your location.

For the Prince Edward Point Christmas Bird Count, the organizer is Pamela Stagg at thecountynaturally@993countyfm.ca.

For the Sandbanks Christmas Bird Count, send lists to Tyler Hoar at thoar@rogers.com.

 

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