Well, it's that time of year again. Mark your calendars for this year's Christmas Bird Count dates if you are planning to participate.
The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is an annual event that takes place throughout North, Central and South America between mid-December and early January. Each count takes place during a single calendar day and covers the area within a circle measuring 24 kilometers in diameter. We are out for a good portion of the day, recording not only the different species seen, but also the number of individuals of each species. There have traditionally been four currently active count circles in Timiskaming District; Haileybury, Mountain Chutes, Hilliardton Marsh and Kirkland Lake. This year, however, a fifth has been added for the Matachewan area.
The first of our Christmas Bird Counts, for the Haileybury count circle, is scheduled to take place on Saturday, December 17th. We generally meet at McDonald's Restaurant in New Liskeard at 8:30 AM. Following tradition, some of us are meeting for breakfast between 8:00 and 8:30 AM. The count will start at 9:00, and we usually finish birding around 3:30 or 4:00. It is customary for us to get together afterwards and compile results, so bargain on the day taking until 4:30 or so.
You don't have to be an expert birder to participate in this event. If you are a novice, we will pair you up with a more experienced birder. In fact, we encourage newcomers to come out, as it is a great way to improve your skills and learn all of your winter birds in the company of a "seasoned" observer. Bring a lunch, binoculars, and dress appropriately for spending time outside in the cold weather, including good boots in case we need to walk around in wet or snowy locations. Other handy items to bring include a bird ID book, note book etc. We will supply a map of the survey circle and tally forms.
If you would like to watch your feeder for the day instead, and report your feeder results for the day to us afterwards, please contact the coordinator for your area. We will need to know in advance if people are watching their feeders so that these locations will not be counted during the "roving" tally to prevent double counting.
This event is not just about counting birds, says Dick Cannings, Bird Studies Canada's program coordinator. Christmas Bird Count data informs decisions by wildlife managers across Canada. Because birds are early indicators of environmental threats to habitats we share, this is a vital survey of North America and, increasingly, the Western Hemisphere.
When & Where?
If you plan on joining us, please call in advance so that we can prepare maps & tally sheets and make sure we have enough vehicles.
Haileybury Count Circle: Saturday, December 17th. Count starts at 9:00 AM Sharp. Be there by 8:30 to get your area of coverage.
To participate in the Haileybury Count, call Mike Werner at 705-680-0044.
If you'd rather participate in the Matachewan count, it is on the same day, Saturday, December 17th. Please contact Jared Taman for participation details.
Hilliardton Count Circle: Sunday, December 18th. We will meet at 8:30 AM at CoffeeTime in Englehart, where we will plan our routes & distribute maps & tally sheets. Count starts at 9:00 AM sharp, so plan to arrive a earlier.
To participate in the Hilliardton Count, call Serge Gendron at 705-544-2449.
Mountain Chutes Count Circle (including Elk Lake): Monday, December 26th.
For the Mountain Chutes Count, call Mike Werner at 705-680-0044.
For this count, we will meet at the chuch hall of Nativity Parish Catholic Church at 9:00 AM.
Kirkland Lake Count Circle: Friday, January 1st, 2016. 8:00 at Tim's West, Kirkland Lake
To participate in the Kirkland Lake Count, call Mike Leahy at 705-642-1982.
For the keeners out there, "Count Week" includes three days before and three days after the chosen Count Day. So for the Haileybury Circle, Count Week begins on Wednesday, the 14th and ends on the 20th, the following Tuesday. For the Hilliardton Count, the dates are 15th to the 21st. Species not recorded on the official day of the count, but within the official count circle, can be recorded if observed between those dates.
Watch this forum for last minute details on meeting locations and times.
See you there!