Christmas Birds Counts – We Need Your Help

In 1900, to oppose the so-called “side-hunt” wherein groups of gunners competed to see which could shoot the most wildlife on Boxing Day, American ornithologist Frank Chapman asked North Americans to head out on Christmas Day, to count the birds in their communities and submit the results as the first ever “Christmas Bird Census”. His suggestion has evolved into one of the largest organized birding events in the world, and now is  a holiday tradition during the Christmas season for well over 50,000 participants each year.

The 110th annual Christmas Bird Count, as it is now called, is conducted in well over 2200 localities across Canada, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The bird observations, collected during one-day counts between December 14th and January 5th, within a 12 km diameter circle, have been amassed into a huge database that reflect the distribution and numbers of winter birds, over time. The northward spread of many wintering species, so depicted, shows clear evidence of climate change.

The next annual Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) are coming up shortly. About 370 Canadian CBCs are reported to Bird Studies Canada each year. In all, some 12,000 to 20,000 people participate across Canada. You can be one of them. It’s a great way to get to know your area, and to see and to learn more about the birds that you can expect during the winter months.

The Christmas Season is a busy time for many, but it also offers some free time for others. If you have that time, regardless of your knowledge, you are invited to join in this fun-filled activity. Most CBCs are all day outings, but you can participate for half-days, if you so wish.

To help you to plan, below are the dates for some of this season’s upcoming local activities. Participation in the Calgary activities will be particularly valuable for the 2010 Big Year Bird Competition, as you will learn where to find the rarer species beginning Jan. 1st.
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Sun Dec 13, 8:30am to noon: Scout some local Calgary CBC territories. (One is the Elbow River from Stanley Park to Rideau/Roxboro). Meet at 420 Brunswick Av SW [approximately at 46 Av & 4 St SW] in time to leave at 8:30am. Return at noon for a hot complementary lunch. Contact Gus Yaki, 403-243-2248.

Tue Dec 15, High River CBC. We’ll leave Calgary approx. 7am, and return about 7pm, after a potluck evening meal.

Sat Dec 19, Banff/Canmore CBC. We’ll leave Calgary approx. 6:30am, returning about 5pm.

Sun Dec 20, Calgary CBC. Join one of the approximately 30 parties that will be scouring Calgary’s parks and natural areas.For assignment to a group, contact Phil Cram, 403-228-4142 or crampj@telusplanet.net. Alternatively, meet at 420 Brunswick Av SW, in time to leave at 8:15am. Depending upon the number of participants, we usually break into two groups, to cover both sides of the Elbow River. At noon, we return for hot soup and sandwiches. After lunch, if you have the time and energy, we’ll drive in the Mount Royal area for additional species, ending at about 4pm. After 5pm, optional, we’ll gather at the home of Dick and Lenora Flynn’s, 71 Mapleburn Dr SE, to tally the day’s results – and to have supper, $4.00

Sun Dec 27, Nanton CBC. We’ll leave Calgary about 7am, assembling at Laurie Messner’s home, 3.2 kms W of Hwy #2,on N side of Twp Rd #154, staying in the field until dusk, then compiling the results and partaking of a complementary supper, arriving home about 7pm.

Tue Dec 29, Cochrane Wildlife Preserve CBC. (Water Valley area). Depart about 6:30am. Return home about 5:30pm.

Wed Jan 6, 7:30pm: Summary and analysis of some of the local area CBCs results. Meet in Room 211, Biosciences Building, Univ. of Calgary.

See January CBC trips on our Free Nature Walks Page

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NOTE: To cover costs of processing the huge amount of data collected, there is a fee of $5.00 for each CBC, free if you are under 18 or are a member of Bird Studies Canada (BSC). Individual membership in BSC is $35.00 annually ($25.00 for student). You will receive an informative, in-depth publication quarterly and can elect to also get bi-weekly electronic newsletters. For more information, contact http://www.birdscanada.org.

Questions anyone? I will gladly answer any that you may have. Please feel free to contact me at 403-243-2248; or by email: gyaki@calcna.ab.ca. Once you register for any activity I’ll supply further updated information as we approach the actual date.

Gus Yaki

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