This is the time of year when observers of all types, from feeder watchers to experienced birders grab their binoculars and start counting. They are participating in a tradition that goes back to 1900 when a handful of people at 25 locations in North America, including two in Canada (Toronto was one of them) engaged in what has become the Christmas Bird Count. Between December 14 and January 7, nearly 140 places in Ontario will gather bird data on a single day in this citizen science effort. We will join over 2,000 counts that take place mainly in the Western Hemisphere.
The counts usually proceed except for extreme circumstances, like a major weather event or in the case of 2020, a few cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns. The results provide valuable data that can be used to monitor bird activity and numbers over years and of course gives participants a chance to have a lot of fun. Some counts will have Snowy Owls and Bald Eagles, others will have Robins, Bluebirds and Snow Buntings and with so much open water, ducks will be plentiful. There will even be a few lingering surprises – birds that should have long since gone south. Keep those feeders well stocked because you may be in for a surprise.
By Brian Morin
Publisher of Ontario Birding News