Christmas Bird Count
Birders wanted to monitor feeders and field routes for annual event on Dec.15
“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.