Christ­mas Bird Count

Bird­ers wanted to mon­i­tor feed­ers and field routes for an­nual event on Dec.15

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - NATURE - PHIL BURKE

“If peo­ple want to par­tic­i­pate as a feeder counter, I would ask that they con­tact me with their name, ad­dress and tele­phone num­ber so that I can doc­u­ment their par­tic­i­pa­tion and ef­fort in the count. If peo­ple want to par­tic­i­pate in the count as a field counter, they can con­tact me at my email ad­dress so that I can as­sign an ap­pro­pri­ate field route that is avail­able.” Leo Heyens, lo­cal co-or­di­na­tor.

“Prior to the turn of the 20th cen­tury, hunters en­gaged in a hol­i­day tra­di­tion known as the Christ­mas “Side Hunt.” They would choose sides and go afield with their guns – who­ever brought in the big­gest pile of feath­ered (and furred) quarry won. Be­gin­ning on Christ­mas Day 1900, or­nithol­o­gist Frank M. Chap­man sug­gested a new tra­di­tion – a “Christ­mas Bird Cen­sus” that would count birds dur­ing the hol­i­days rather than hunt them.” Audubon So­ci­ety web site.

For­tu­nately, the Side Count did not sur­vive but the Christ­mas Bird Count has grown un­til now it is an in­ter­na­tional event (and in­cludes Kenora) pro­vid­ing sci­en­tists around the world with raw data to pour into their stud­ies of our feath­ered friends.

We are for­tu­nate to have the likes of count co­or­di­na­tor Leo Heyens, a fine birder and source of in­for­ma­tion for all mat­ter of wildlife – feath­ered and oth­er­wise. Leo has been a field counter since 1980 and co­or­di­nated this event lo­cally since 1985. He has se­lected Satur­day, Dec. 15 for the count in Kenora, a date that is within the pa­ram­e­ters al­lowed by the Na­tional Audubon Bird So­ci­ety.

Leo has noted, “Not many peo­ple know that the count area is ac­tu­ally a cir­cle from the city cen­ter – 12 km from city hall in any di­rec­tion. Some peo­ple are in­ter­ested ev­ery year but un­for­tu­nately they live out­side the 24 km cir­cle.”

The pro­ce­dures to fol­low are quite sim­ple. You, alone or with friends, may do a feeder count whereby you sit in the com­fort of your home with binoc­u­lars, a bird book, (or good com­puter app) and count the birds that drop by your feeder or visit your prop­erty. The trick here is to count the great­est num­ber of birds of a species you ob­serve at any one time. This elim­i­nates the chance that the same birds may be counted nu­mer­ous times when they visit the feed­ers.

If you’d like to get out­doors and count birds, you qual­ify as a field counter. Check with Leo to en­sure that coun­ters do not over­lap their ar­eas.

Your iden­ti­fi­ca­tion skills don’t have to be per­fect at all. Con­sider this: An ob­server knows a few birds by name and sees a chick­adee and a robin on her feeder. There are some other birds in­clud­ing a wood­pecker. Her bird book will help out but even if some birds are uniden­ti­fi­able, it is par­tic­u­larly note­wor­thy that a robin was at her feeder. If she didn’t re­port it, it is pos­si­ble that no other counter would have seen it. (And yes, over the years we have had a few robins ap­pear on our Christ­mas Bird Count.)

When fin­ished send your re­sults to Leo at [email protected] or call him at 5481041.

And that’s it. Leo sends the re­sults from the Kenora area to the main data col­lec­tion cen­tre where it min­gles with all the hun­dreds and thou­sands of oth­ers. Re­searchers are grate­ful for the in­for­ma­tion.

Happy count­ing and stay tuned for Leo’s re­port on this year’s Christ­mas Bird Count that will ap­pear in the Miner and News in Jan­uary.


The hand­some pileated wood­pecker is al­ways a wel­come vis­i­tor at win­ter feed­ers and suet is the draw­ing card.

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