Join the Christmas Bird Count from Home

All birders—even backyard ones—are invited to join in the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count Saturday.

There’s a hummingbird feeder hanging in a yard on Mountain Avenue that’s snuggled into a wool sock and kept from freezing with a coil heater, in order that a courageous Anna’s Hummingbird, who neglected to migrate to southern climes this fall, will not perish this winter.

Overwintering in Kelowna is not recommended for hummingbirds, who normally fly as far as 4,500 kilometres south in fall, to winter in south-central Mexico, but in coastal B.C. the Anna’s will overwinter rather than migrating.

It’s one species that passionate Kelowna birder Chris Charlesworth, coordinator of the annual Christmas Bird Count for the Central Okanagan, hopes to be able to include in this year’s count, which is this Sat., Dec. 14.

Although the cold snap has kept all but very hardy birders inside where it’s warmer the past couple of weeks, it will be snow rather than the extreme cold that could hamper their efforts to spot as many and as varied bird species as possible Saturday, he noted.

And some of their best counts have been compiled on snowy days when birds have to move around, but it makes it tougher for birders to get around, he commented.

You can help with the annual count simply by looking out your window Saturday and doing a count of the different species you spot and identify in your yard, then calling in at the end of the day with the largest number of a species you counted at any one time during the day.

Do not add the species you spot at different times or you could count some twice.

Denise Brownlie of the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club will be coordinating the feederwatch, so call her before 4 p.m. with your numbers, at: 250-717-1809 or e-mail her at: owls-nest@shaw.ca

As part of the feederwatch component of the day’s events, you may spot finches, pine siskins, quail, robins, sparrows, chickadees, juncos, nuthatches, pigeons, owls, hawks and eagles, for a sampling.

Charlesworth is excited about the possibility of spotting some unusual birds such as rare gulls, hummingbirds, overwintering peregrine falcons, grouse, golden eagles and gray jays, which are normally found at higher elevations.

Last year, a total of 63 Eurasian Collared Doves were counted, even though they’re far from their native land. He said the whole continent has been taken over by the doves and just recently they’ve moved into the Okanagan as well. “They don’t seem to be a pest like the starling though,” he commented.

The numbers compiled at the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Counts done throughout North and South America help to paint a picture of trends in bird numbers, with the idea of better understanding how they and their environment is faring.

Penticton’s annual CBC is Sunday and Lake Country’s is Monday.

 

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

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