Christmas Bird Counts

What’s a Christmas Bird Count and why am I posting about it on January 5th?

Here are the answers, compliments of Bird Studies Canada‘s website:

In 1900, American ornithologist Frank Chapman asked birders across North America to head out on Christmas Day to count the birds in their home towns and submit the results as the first “Christmas Bird Census.” The Christmas Bird Count, as it is now called, is conducted in over 2000 localities across Canada, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. These bird observations have been amassed into a huge database that reflects the distribution and numbers of winter birds over time.

Christmas Bird Counts are conducted on any one day between December 14 and January 5 inclusive. They are carried out within a 24-km diameter circle that stays the same from year to year. Christmas counts are generally group efforts, though single-observer counts can and do happen. They are organized at the local level, usually by a birding club or naturalists organization.

This is the first year I participated, and you know me – jump in with both feet! So I took part in three: Dec. 15 in Clark’s Crossing, Dec. 26th in Saskatoon (REALLY cold!) and today, Jan. 5th, in Pike Lake. They were all organized by the Saskatoon Nature Society.

I was with a different group of people each time, always with at least a couple of knowledgeable birders. You drive and walk around your area and count all the birds you see – both the species and the amount.

During the Clark’s Crossing count, I added two new birds to my list – Gray Partridge and Snowy Owl. The partridge picture isn’t great, but I like the owl one:


The Saskatoon count was so cold, my camera quit. Didn’t see a lot of birds, but enjoyed it despite the cold.

Today, in Pike Lake I added another bird to my list – Ruffed Grouse. Like the partridge, the picture’s not great but it’s identifiable.

My best pictures today were of Pine Grosbeaks (male and female) and a Common Redpoll, both of which we saw a lot:

Pine Grosbeak (male)

Pine Grosbeak (male)

Pine Grosbeak (female)

Pine Grosbeak (female)

Common Redpoll (in the shade)

Common Redpoll (in the shade)

Next up? The Great Backyard Bird Count (Feb. 15-18th). I can hardly wait. 🙂


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