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Christmas Bird Count – Count Week Birds

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

The Calgary Christmas Bird Count is coming up this Sunday, December 16, and that means that we are now in the Count Week period.  Any species which are seen from December 13 to 19, but missed on the count day itself, are included in the database as Count Week birds.  Sometimes there are very good birds which are known to be around but can’t be found on count day, and sometimes it’s an unexpected bird showing up before or after the count. 

If you see an unusual or out-of-season bird during count week, and it is inside the Count Circle, make a note of the sighting.  If the bird is not reported on count day, pass the information about your sighting to Phil Cram, the count coordinator, at crampj(at)gmail.com.

Christmas Bird Count Circle

The Count Circle for the Calgary CBC. Note that the circle does not include all of the city.

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This Song Sparrow has been hanging out at Votier’s Flats in Fish Creek Park for a few weeks – outside the count circle.  Can we find one inside the circle? (Photo by Daniel Arndt)

There have been several sightings of Snowy Owls inside the city recently.  This would be a great bird to add either on Count Day or as a Count Week bird.

Calgary Region Christmas Bird Counts

As always there are many Christmas Bird Counts coming up in the Calgary Region (and throughout North America).  There are lots of dates and locations to choose from, so get out and participate in as many as you can.  This citizen science project is in its 113th year!

Sat Dec 15: Banff/Canmore.  Contact Mike McIvor, mdmcivor(at)shaw.ca  403-762-4160.

Sun Dec 16: City of Calgary. Contact Phil Cram, crampj(at)telusplanet.net  403-228-4142.  To count birds at your feeders in your yard, contact Jean Moore, jmmoore(at)ucalgary.ca  403-282-4162.

Tue Dec 18: High River. Contact Greg Wagner, greg.wagner(at)athene.ca  403-601-3893.

Sat Dec 22: Horseshoe Canyon. Contact Mike Harrison, tringa(at)telus.net  403-236-4700.

Sat Dec 22: Pincher Creek. Contact Sam Miller, sammiller(at)telus.net  403-627-3275.  Offering free overnight accommodation if needed.

Thu Dec 27: Town of Cochrane. Contact Frank Hennessey, frankhennessey(at)gmail.com  403-932-4986.

Fri Dec 28: Cochrane Wildlife Res. Contact Jamey Podlubny, svisser(at)ucalgary.ca  403-288-0658.

Sat Dec. 29: Sheep River/Turner Valley. Contact Doug Collister, collistr(at)gmail.com 403-540-4573.

Sun Dec 30: Nanton. Contact Mike Truch, mike_truch(at)shaw.ca  403-829-6986.

Mon Dec 31: Snake’s Head, Sundre. Contact Doug Collister,  collistr(at)gmail.com 403-540-4573.

Fri Jan 04: Dinosaur Prov. Park. Contact Yousif Attia, ysattia(at)gmail.com  403-585-1125.

Sat Jan 05: BowKan (Exshaw). Contact Cliff Hansen, cehansen(at)telusplanet.net  403-673-2422.

Counts are all day but you may quit early. Everyone, regardless of skill level is invited to participate. Compilers ask that you register your intention to participate as soon as possible to facilitate planning, and to avoid going out when count is postponed due to weather, etc.

In addition, there is the half-day Fish Creek Park count, which is not an official Christmas Count but is in its 20th year:

2013. Tue Jan 1, 9am; 20th Fish Creek Prov. Park Bird Count (morning only). Contact Jim Washbrook, jwashbrook(at)prairiesky.ab.ca  403-613-9216.

Calgary Christmas Bird Count 2012

The 61st Calgary Christmas Bird Count will be held on Sunday December 16, 2012.  Phil Cram is organizing it, and as usual he’d like to get as many birders involved as possible.  The goal is to have over 100 people in the field that day, and over 100 watching their feeders.  If you want to participate in the field, contact Phil by email at crampj(at)gmail.com.  If you’d like to take part in the Feederwatch program, email Jean Moore at jmmoore(at)ucalgary.ca or phone (403) 282-4162.

Note that Bird Studies Canada is no longer charging a $5 fee to participate in the field, as they did in the past.

Wood Duck.  Photo by Daniel Arndt, December 11, 2011.

It would great to see new records for participation!  It’s a lot of fun, so sign up now, and pass this message on to anyone you know who might be interested.

Attn Backyard Birdwatchers!

If you feed birds in your yard each winter, why not turn your hobby into research that supports bird conservation? By joining Project FeederWatch and sharing information about which birds visit your feeders between November and April, you can help scientists at Bird Studies Canada and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology track changes in bird numbers and movements.

Project FeederWatch begins on November 10 and runs until early April. Taking part is easy! Just count the numbers and kinds of birds at your feeders, and enter the information on the FeederWatch website (or on printed forms). Last season, 2565 Canadians participated, and another 13,000 people in the United States.

Results from ‘citizen science’ programs like Project FeederWatch help research and conservation organizations monitor long-term population trends and changes. FeederWatch has shown a northward expansion in the ranges of some species like Northern Cardinals and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, probably the result of changing climate and habitats. FeederWatchers have also documented a range-wide decline in Evening Grosbeaks. This species was a common bird at feeders just 25 years ago.

FeederWatch has also tracked the seasonal movements of irruptive species, and recorded the spread of avian illnesses. In 2011-12, Canada experienced a mild winter, with very little snow cover in much of the country. As a result, birds had access to lots of natural foods, which was a factor in fewer birds being seen at feeders.

After 25 years of Project FeederWatch as a North America-wide program, we know the patterns of fluctuations. Many ‘irruptive’ birds such as winter finches (e.g., Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins, and Pine Grosbeaks) tend to move out of their normal ranges at regular intervals. They feed largely on tree seeds. When their food in northern and mountainous areas is in short supply, they move into southern and lowland areas, and descend on feeders.

Join Project FeederWatch

The $35 Project FeederWatch enrollment fee includes a Bird Studies Canada membership and four issues of BirdWatch Canada magazine. You will also receive educational materials, including: a large full-colour poster of common feeder birds; a bird calendar; a comprehensive instruction and data booklet; a useful bird-feeding handbook; the latest FeederWatch results; articles on bird behaviour; answers to your bird questions, and more!

Bird Studies Canada (www.birdscanada.org) is dedicated to advancing the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats. BSC is Canada’s national body for bird research and conservation, and is a non-governmental charitable organization.

There are four ways to register for Project FeederWatch in Canada:

Visit the “Explore Data” section of the FeederWatch website at http://watch.birds.cornell.edu/PFW/ExploreData to find the top 25 birds reported in your region and bird summaries by state or province.

For further information contact Kerrie Wilcox, Bird Studies Canada, (519) 586-3531 ext. 134kwilcox@birdscanada.org

Posted by Pat Bumstead