Thursday, December 23, 2010

Citizens Count Birds

 It was on Christmas Day 1900 when Frank Chapman first organized the Christmas Bird Count with 27 volunteers who counted 90 species. Now, 111 years later the Christmas Bird Count has expanded to 60,000 volunteers who last year reported 2319 species. The Christmas Bird Count has become an international citizen-science event.

Records indicate that birdwatchers in Newfoundland have participated in the CBC for a number of years but I couldn't find when this first began.  To learn more about the Christmas Bird Count visit:  This site provides a great look into the history of the event and an overview of how it works.

The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place in February and all can participate from the comfort of your own home. I have placed a hotlink to the information about this event at the bottom of this page. For you convenience, I am adding a link here:

This site reports that people of Newfoundland have participated in this event since 1998. The lists of
birds reported by year are also listed as well as the locations within the province that reported. I participated in this event last year and it is a very easy and fun activity. Upon completion of the event, I was provided with a password to access a great information web site. For more information about Project Feeder Watch, visit this site:

 I have provided a series of pictures here that illustrate just how hard it might be to get an accurate count all of the birds. How can you tell how many Herring Gulls are sitting with how many Iceland Gulls and all of the other species. Huge flocks of seabirds congregate. It takes a good eye to determine how many of each species may be in the group. Among the large numbers of Common Eiders in this raft pictured here, there is one King Eider. A good pair of binoculars is clearly essential as well as a camera that can capture the group for later scrutiny. I am hoping to participate in the Avalon Christmas Bird Count that takes place on Boxing Day. I am sure that I will learn a lot through this experience and be able to contribute in a small way.

Not all birds will be found in large groups. Single small birds such as this Ruby-crowned Kinglet will be flitting through the trees making the count even more difficult and exciting. It will be very interesting to learn how many species will be found by how many citizen bird watchers to compile the final list for the 2010 Christmas Bird Count.

I will provide an update on the outcome following the event.
   It provides an excellent overview of the activity and explains how everyone can participate. Sign up and start counting.

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