On Sunday, a dedicated group of Brandon bird enthusiasts will bundle up, strap on the binoculars, and head out to count birds as part of the area’s annual Christmas Bird Count.
The annual event, a tradition in Brandon over the past 38 years, is one of many counts that occur across North America at this time of year to generate important information for researchers to better understand the trends in bird populations. This, in turn, allows for better decisions to be made about bird conservation.
Run under the auspices of the National Audubon Society, the Christmas Bird Count also helps promote safe environments for birds while encouraging bird watching as a recreational activity. Canada’s bird count, which has been held for more than a century, is the largest running community science bird project.
For the individual birder, it is just plain fun. The Count attracts experienced birders as well as rookies observers curious to see what birding is all about. Teams are composed of two to three people with a mixture of experience. Each team covers a particular part of the city during the count day.
A potluck dinner will be held at the Discovery Centre Sunday evening where teams will report the numbers of each bird species recorded for their area.
“There is often high excitement when the bird reports come in and rare or unexpected birds have been seen,” says Brandon Christmas Bird Count organizer Glennis Lewis. “For example, one group last year reported six Snowy Owls in their count. And, you never know when a Varied Thrush or a Townsend’s Solitaire might make an appearance. There’s a surprising variety of birds to be found here in the winter. You just have to look and listen.”
For people less enthusiastic about December’s chilly outdoor conditions, there is another way to participate in the count. Individuals can sign up to record the birds that show up at the feeders in their yards. This information is submitted to the coordinator who adds these numbers in as part of the total count for Brandon.
For further information on participating in the count, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
– With notes from Glennis Lewis