This fieldfare, a member of the thrush family, was spotted during the annual Salmon Arm Bird Count on Dec. 16, 2018. This is only the second time the bird, which is native to northern Europe and Asia, had been seen in B.C. (Roger Beardmore photo)

This fieldfare, a member of the thrush family, was spotted during the annual Salmon Arm Bird Count on Dec. 16, 2018. This is only the second time the bird, which is native to northern Europe and Asia, had been seen in B.C. (Roger Beardmore photo)

Chilliwack bird watchers prepare for annual Christmas count

Nature Chilliwack co-ordinates the count and forwards data to the Audubon Society

A holiday tradition for bird lovers returns with the annual Christmas bird count.

The Chilliwack event takes place Saturday (Dec. 19), with approximately 40-50 people fanning out over a massive territory.

Some will be jumping in vehicles and heading into remote areas to see what they can spot. Others will stay closer to home, monitoring bird feeders to see how many flying friends stop by.

The Chilliwack count includes 23 sites.

Denis Knopp of Nature Chilliwack said you don’t need to be a member of the group to take part. You don’t even need to know anything about birds.

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Groups heading out into the wilderness typically include an ‘expert,’ someone who knows where to stop and what to look for, accompanied by an ‘observer,’ who helps spot birds. The ‘recorder’ jots down the info and that person can be a total newbie.

”With COVID, we may just have one or two to a vehicle this year, but we’re always looking to bring new people into this,” Knopp said.

As the name suggests, ‘feeder counters’ keep an eye on feeders in a smaller neighborhood area throughout the day, and their job is simply to jot down the maximum number of birds they see.

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“If they see five at a feeder in the morning and check back a couple hours later and see 12, they don’t add them together,” Knopp said. “They only put down the maximum birds they see at any one time.”

Data goes to the Audubon Society for use in ‘citizen science.’

“One thing they can see is trends in species moving north,” Knopp said. “We’re starting to see (California) scrub jays now, and we never used to get those ever. They can tell what habitats have been lost by what birds are wintering where. There’s a lot of data for Chilliwack dating back to 1978, and counts have been going on for 121 years. This will be the 122nd year.”

To take part in the bird count, contact Knopp at bcwilddenis@uniserve.com or call 604-858-5141.

To check out the findings of Christmas Bird Counts past, check out Audubon’s website at www.audubon.org.


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