By Liza Barney, Education Program Coordinator, Birds Canada
May is always an exciting time of year to pay attention to birds. The morning birdsong, journeys of migration, or discovery of a new nest can spark much joy and wonderment in all ages. And with more time spent at home this spring, birds reminded us to pause and tune in to the seasonal changes and diversity of nature around us.
With our annual Schoolyard Bird Blitz program on pause this spring, Birds Canada invited students and families to explore and count birds from home, anytime during the month of May. Bird Blitz at Home nurtured a place-based connection to birds and nature, supported school curriculums and home learning activities, and contributed to Citizen Science. Observing and counting birds for science helps to grow an appreciation for local biodiversity, and an understanding of the importance of bird-friendly spaces, year-round.
Nearly 600 participants explored their local areas for birds, together reporting 209 species from across the country!
The American Robin was the most frequently observed species, reported on 71% of submitted checklists. Rounding out the top 5 were the Black-capped Chickadee, Canada Goose, Red-winged Blackbird, and American Crow.
1. American Robin; 2. Black-capped Chickadee; 3. Canada Goose; 4. Red-winged Blackbird; 5. American Crow (Photos: Jaden Barney)
In addition to common and familiar yard birds, 12 Species at Risk were reported, including Chimney Swifts, Barn Swallows, and Trumpeter Swans. High counts included the impressive flock of Sandhill Cranes (10,000) and Franklin’s Gulls (450) near Edmonton, AB; and American Goldfinch (200) in Flinton, Ontario!
Checklists submitted to Birds Canada are uploaded to our national database through NatureCounts, where data will be used for ongoing monitoring and analysis that increases our understanding of bird abundance and diversity in Canada.
Equally important to the data were the connections to birds and enthusiastic highlights shared by participants. Here are a few of our favorite comments:
- “The Red-tailed Hawk was harassed by a Common Grackle the first time it soared overhead, then when it came closer a second time, five Common Grackles and two American Crows mobbed it. Once a common grackle even managed to land on the hawk’s back!” (Brantford, Ontario)
- “Saw a Western Wood-Pewee bringing something in beak to a nest high up in a fir tree. We could hear the baby birds in the nest respond and vocalize when the adult brought food!” (Vancouver, British Columbia)
- “Since we can’t go out as a class, I’m doing this on my own and then sharing some of the results with my students that meet with me via Video Chats. We also spent some time going over this site and learning how to use it. I’m encouraging them to sign up and give it a try and highlighting the importance of Citizen Science initiative like this. We also spent some time on Dendroica to learn a bit about bird ID using field marks, range maps and songs.” (Winnipeg, MB)
- “We enjoyed exploring nature and learning together while we participated in the Bird Blitz. We encouraged our friends to participate and shared copies of the Bird Tally Sheet with family and friends. It is lovely to watch our daughter enjoy nature’s beauty. We will share these memories for years to come.” (Norfolk, Ontario)
Photo: Ally Manthorne
Bird-friendly Yard prize winners
Bird Blitz at Home participants qualified to win a Bird-friendly Yard prize pack from our generous program supporters, Pinebush Home and Garden and West Coast Seeds! Congratulations to Jennifer and Hazel (Delhi, Ontario); the Schwartz family (Whistler, BC); the Froese Family (Edmonton, AB) and Becky, Charlie, Gretchen, Ian, and Chris Bockhop (Brooklin Birders from Whitby, ON). Winners will receive a bird feeder, bird seed, nesting box, and wildflower seeds to grow bird-friendly spaces!
Thank you to all the Bird Blitz at Home participants for sharing your birds with us through your checklists, stories, and photos. To stay connected to birds and our bird programming, visit us at The Roost! birdscanada.org/theroost
Bird Blitz at Home and Schoolyard Bird Blitz are programs of Birds Canada, supported by Pinebush Home and Garden, West Coast Seeds, and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.