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Bird lovers invited to Christmas Bird Counts

Bird lovers are welcoming winter this month by joining in several Christmas Bird Count events.

The count began in 1900, and today it is North America’s longest-running wildlife census. Each one-day bird census is conducted by volunteers of all ages and skill levels. Members of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory and Quinte Field Naturalists will also be involved. Anyone that loves to spend a day outside in the cold and snow is welcome to join in free of charge.

The Prince Edward Point Count is Saturday, Dec. 15. It was started in 1977 and covers an area stretching from Hay Bay, south to Prince Edward Point and from Chuckery Hill Road, east to Cressy Point. Contact coordinator Peter Fuller at petefullz@gmail.com if you’re interested in participating.

The Sandbanks Christmas Bird County is relatively new and includes Wellington, Bloomfield, Milford, Point Petre, Cherry Valley, the Sandbanks and all points in between. It is set for Tuesday, Dec. 18 and interested participants should contact coordinator Tyler Hoar at thoar@rogers.com

This year’s Christmas Bird Counts will run from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5, 2019. Ontario Nature member groups are organizing at least 80 counts in the province this season. Visit the Ontario Nature website (ontarionature.org/cbc) to find a count near you. For a comprehensive list of counts happening in Canada, visit the Bird Studies Canada website (bsc-eoc.org/volunteer/cbc).

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 Projects and Education Manager.

Last year, more than 14,000 Canadians participated in over 450 Christmas Bird Counts across the country. Participants recorded a whopping 2.4 million individual birds. In Ontario, 4,435 citizen scientists tallied 231 species and 1,277,568 individual birds throughout the province.

Here are some highlights from last year’s Ontario counts:

Highlights included red-shouldered hawks, black-billed magpies and red-throated loons
Record numbers of snow buntings and dark-eyed juncos were counted in and around Kingston
The first ever golden eagles and a record 30 bald eagles were recorded during the Hanover-Walkerton count
A record 410 American goldfinches were recorded in Niagara Falls
Unusual sightings around Lake Simcoe included two golden-crowned kinglets and a mockingbird
Count participants tallied a record 192 hooded mergansers and 103 red-bellied woodpeckers in Hamilton.
Rare sightings in Thunder Bay included a boreal owl, a brown thrasher and a white-crowned sparrow

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  1. Cheryl Anderson says:

    Two very enjoyable County Christmas Bird Counts are complete. Birds of note are flocks of up to 20 Blue Birds, as many as 4 Snowy Owls, a group of 8 Bald Eagles roosting and 2 Black Vultures which are up here from the south visiting their cousins the Turkey Vultures. Thanks to everyone who put up with birders peering at their feeders through binoculars and tramping through their yards to set up scopes on the shore.

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