Posted by Dan Arndt
While most people associate Christmas with sitting around a fire over a cup of warm cocoa with friends and family, birders throughout North America consider it a very special time of year where they get to visit some of their favourite birding patches and see just what’s happened to pay a visit to their area for the holiday season.
In years long past, it was the tradition to go out on either Christmas Day or Boxing Day and participate in the “Side Hunt”, the goal of which was to collect the largest pile of quarry items, both mammal and bird alike. As the 20th century turned, ornithologist Frank Chapman of the newly formed Audubon Society, proposed a new tradition in the spirit of the newly adopted value of wildlife and nature conservation. This “Christmas Bird Census” was to count the birds (and mammals) found on Christmas Day, 1900, rather than hunt them. This initial proposal inspired cooperation in 25 cities in North America, from Toronto to Pacific Grove, California, most counts being right in urban centers. Those pioneering birders tallied 90 species of birds that day throughout the region,
The tradition continues to this day not only in North America, but the world over. Calgary’s Christmas Bird Count is entering its 62nd year, and will take place on December 15th. Last year there were nearly 250 participants including Feeder Watchers and Field Observers, and together we tallied 65 species in the 15 mile circle centered on the 10th St. Bridge.
A number of other Christmas Bird Count dates have been announced for the Calgary area as well, including:
- Saturday December 14: Banff/Canmore
- Sunday December 15: Calgary
- Tuesday December 17: High River
- Monday December 23: Horseshoe Canyon
- Friday December 27: Cochrane and Sheep River
- Saturday December 28: Nanton
- Sunday December 29: Cochrane Wildlife Reserve
- Wednesday January 1: Fish Creek Provincial Park
- Thursday January 2: The Snake’s Head
For more information about any of these Christmas Bird Counts, feel free to contact us here at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check the Nature Calgary website for direct contact info to the organizers:
Thanks for reading, and good birding!