Hello bird lovers (we know you’re out there). This year’s Christmas Bird Count happens on Saturday, Dec. 16. As usual it’s being organized by the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation (BCBC), and organizers would like very much for a good turnout.
What it amounts to is people pairing up and heading out into assigned sectors of a circle around Slave Lake to identify and count all the birds they see.
“To kick off the day, we will be meeting at the Sawridge truckstop (Travel Centre) at 8:30 a.m. for a hearty breakfast, compliments of the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory,” says last week’s blurb on the event from the BCBC. “We will make up the teams, plan the routes and then head out for a winter birding adventure around 9:30 a.m.”
Attempts will be made to pair up novices with birding experts, though this is not always possible. Joining in the fun this year will be the Junior Forest Wardens, who will do a sweep of the town for urban birds.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t just some frivolous fun for folks who like ID-ing dickie birds. The data goes to a central registry which analyzes bird population data over decades. Christmas Bird Counts have been going on for over a century in North America, under the auspices of the National Audubon Society. This is the 23rd annual edition in Slave Lake.
Patti Campsall, the BCBC executive director, encourages participants to wear good winter clothing, to bring a hot drink in a thermos, equip themselves with binoculars and a bird guide and “a digital camera in case you get a really good bird.” She also encourages interested birders to call or email ahead of time, “to help us plan the day.”
The BCBC number is 780-849-8240. Email is [email protected]
Some people say there aren’t any exotic birds around in winter. Wrong! This big fellow was photographed on Dec. 6, right here in Slave Lake, having its way with a poplar tree.