Volunteers track birds

A cooperative varied thrush on the Christmas Bird Count, Powell River - A. Bryant

Volunteers track birds
by Heather Harbord, 3 December 2008.

Powell River’s birds will soon be counted once again. The fifth annual Powell River Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will be held on December 14. Volunteer birdwatchers will scout a large area, 24 kilometres in diameter, searching for bird species.

The Christmas Bird Count began on Christmas Day, 1900, when ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed a new holiday tradition-an annual bird census that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.

Since then, the counts have been held every year with more communities joining the effort until there are now over 1,800 counts in North America and new counts starting in Central and South America and Europe.

In the Powell River area, birds will be counted from Stillwater Bay to Tla’Amin (Sliammon) First Nation. Plenty of help will be required as this is an ambitious region to cover.

Expertise is not required to participate; novices will be teamed with more experienced counters. Tally persons and spotters are also in demand. Most teams start at first light and although counting goes on throughout the day, much is done by noon.

Volunteers can also participate as feederwatchers: people who, from the comfort of their homes, count the birds that visit home-based feeders.

Counters under 18 years of age, Bird Studies Canada members and feederwatchers are invited to participate at no charge. Other counters are asked for a $5 contribution to offset the costs of the count and the follow-up publications they will receive throughout the year.

For those unsure about participating or who want to tune up their bird-counting skills, a birding by ear field trip will be held from 9 am to noon on Sunday, December 7 at the old golf course beside the Catalyst Paper Corporation mill. Meet with Pierre Geoffray in front of the old Knights of Columbus building. Bring warm clothing and if possible, a pair of binoculars.

To volunteer for the count, readers can contact Heather Harbord or Pierre Geoffray.