Across the country throughout December, the annual Christmas Bird Count took place. It is North America’s longest running citizen science project effort, having been created in 1900. On December 23rd, the Revelstoke birding contingent broke out their binoculars and headed out to count and identify every bird they saw.
The data collected by the Christmas Bird Count is sent to the National Audubon Society where the results are analyzed. In turn, the results gives environmentalists and educators a snapshot of which species are where and the approximate population numbers. This information can be compared to previous years data and show trends in population and, due to climate change, differences in migration routes and times.
Revelstoke has an avid group of dedicated birders and they have taken part in the bird count since 1981. Local birder Don Manson, who is responsible for sending the data to the Audubon Society, said twenty locals took part in the count this year.
“We create a circle that extends past the dam, out to the Peaks, down to McPherson Ski Lodge and then south to twelve mile. Participants skied, hiked, and drove the area,” Manson says of the process.
Compared to previous years the count was quite low. While songbird populations are on the decline across North America, Manson isn’t worried about the Christmas Count numbers. “The weather has been too nice this year,” he says. “Many of several species have yet to come down from the mountains to the lower ranges.”
There were a couple surprises. A blue jay was spotted, and while Revelstoke is home to grey jays, blue jays are unusual. A black-legged Kittiwake was also spotted. “It’s a coastal bird,” says Manson. “It might have been blown in by a storm.” Though it did not count towards the Christmas Count, this past summer several rare species of warblers were spotted.
Local enthusiasts, or those with an interest, can check out ebirds. EBirds is a project started by Cornell Lab of Ornithology that allows birders to share their sightings, create lists, and find more birds based on others sightings.
BC Bird Alert is also a handy resource. It alerts users of any rare birds spotted in their area.
Come late April, birders meet every Sunday morning just before 7am in the Community Centre parking lot. “We decide where to go and head out for about two hours.” The weekly birding sessions continue throughout the summer, winding down for the winter season come Thanksgiving.
The following is a complete list of species and numbers from the Christmas Bird Count.
Snow Goose 1, Canada Goose 342, Trumpeter Swan 6, Mallard 113, Green Winged Teal 10, Bufflehead 8, Common Goldeneye 73, Common/Barrow’s Goldeneye 19, Great Blue Heron (Blue form) 5, Northern Harrier 1, Cooper’s Hawk 1, Bald Eagle 5, Black legged Kittiwake 1, Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 29, Eurasian Collared-Dove 8, Belted Kingfisher 1, Downy Woodpecker 8, Hairy Woodpecker 1, Northern Flicker 35, Northern Flicker (Intergrade) 1, Pileated woodpecker 2, Merlin 2, Steller’s Jay 14, Blue Jay 1, American Crow 109, Common Raven 99, Black Capped Chickadee 43, Chestnut-backed Chickadee 3, Red-breasted Nuthatch 22, American Dipper 8, Golden Crowned Kinglet 29, American Robin 47, European Starling 38, Bohemian Waxwing 114, Dark Eyed Junco 32, White-throated Sparrow 1, Song Sparrow 6, Red-winged Blackbird 23, Pine Grosbeak 13, House Finch 23, Red Crossbill 7, Pine Siskin 509, American Goldfinch 98.
Total Individuals 1,917
Total Species Reported 44
Special thanks to Don Manson and members of the Friends of the Feathered.
*Image by Don Manson 2011 legacy.revelstokecurrent.com