By Yousif Attia, Canadian Christmas Bird Count Coordinator, Birds Canada
Stony Plain, AB Photo: Kelsey Bourgeois
Are you a birder who hasn’t participated in a Christmas Bird Count (CBC) yet, or one who has missed out on the past few years? Well, here are three good reasons to sign up for at least one CBC this season:
1. You’ll help birds.
During your count day, your birding skills will contribute to North America’s longest running Citizen Science database. Christmas Bird Count data have recently been used to alert us that 1 in 4 birds has disappeared in the past 50 years! Your volunteer efforts are a way to give back to birds in a meaningful way. There’s even a Christmas Bird Count for Kids so we can introduce the next generation to Citizen Science and most importantly, to the world of wild birds.
2. You’ll spend time outside, and perhaps discover new places.
Once you’re outside, breathing fresh air and surrounded by natural landscapes, you realize that getting up at 6 a.m. is totally worth it. Sometimes you discover locations that you otherwise wouldn’t have thought to visit and bird, and you might be tempted to visit these locations during other seasons.
Mistle Thrush Photo: Peter Gadd
3. You’ll have fun.
You’re going birding! You may be spending time with some friends that you see only once a year. Or you may get paired up with a beginner who is keen to learn from you. Or you may decide to spend the day in the backyard tallying birds that are already coming to your feeders. Perhaps a friendly rivalry will spark up between territories. Oh yeah, and rarities … Christmas Bird Counts tend to turn them up. In recent years, field counters on CBCs in Canada found a Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush (a first for North America!), Siberian Accentor, Red-flanked Bluetail, and Citrine Wagtail – to name a few Eurasian vagrants.
Many of you are already part of the CBC family as regional editors, compilers, field counters, and feeder counters. Thank you for enduring sometimes challenging weather and road conditions for the cause. If the birds could thank you, they would!