Updated: Christmas Bird Count going forward with two options

Updated Dec. 9 to include the most recent COVID-19 restrictions. The only change from what is in the physical copy of the Leader is that there are now only two options.

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

For the last 26 years, there’s been a Christmas Bird Count in Slave Lake. This year, its a go, but with, you guessed it, social distancing.

Participants have two options:

– count the birds by the bird feeders in their own yards
– birding individually or team up with household members

“You don’t have to know a lot of birds” to participate, says Patti Campsall, executive director of the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory. Although each year, hard-core birders find something rare. Around Christmas, the number of species is less than in the summer. For example, last year, people spotted 1,502 birds from 25 species. Ravens were the most common, followed by Bohemian waxwings, and black-capped chickadees were third.

Every year since the observatory started, it has held Christmas Bird Count. The Slave Lake count is part of the North America-wide Christmas Bird Count, which turns 121 this year.

In a normal year, the event kicks off with a breakfast, says Campsall. Instead, this year, there will be an online meeting to divide the regions.

There are often more birds in town around the bird feeders than in the bush, says Campsall. Anyone with a busy bird feeder who can’t participate is welcome to contact LSLBO to have their yard added to a list.

The bird count is Saturday, Dec. 19 at any time it works for people. The virtual preparation meeting is Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.

The preparation meeting includes information on common birds and some tips and tricks. Birding locations will also be assigned.

The goal is to count as many birds as possible in and around Slave Lake on that day. To register call 780-849-8240 or email [email protected]

A pine grosbeak (red) and evening grosbeak (yellow) from the 2011 Christmas Bird Count.

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