Ontario Nature has once again joined the Christmas Bird Count, a program initiated by American ornithologist Frank Chapman in 1900. The Canadian organization put out the word that volunteers are wanted to contribute to monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds across the Western Hemisphere.
Regardless of skill level or age, anyone wishing to take part in the Ontario Christmas Bird Count has been invited to contact a local birding or nature club to offer their time to the count effort. This year’s count runs from December 14, 2017 to January 5, 2018 with Ontario Nature member groups coordinating at least 68 counts this season.
“The Christmas Bird Count is a great way for bird lovers of all ages to help Ontario’s birds. Novices work alongside experts to collect important data that help guide work on behalf of all birds across the province. And who knows… maybe you’ll see a rare bird that no one has recorded before,” says Emma Horrigan, Conservation Science Coordinator at Ontario Nature.
The Ontario count is the longest-running wildlife census, with Toronto being a part of the first count in 1900, and a crucial part of Canada’s biodiversity monitoring database. Each citizen scientist who braves the snow, wind and cold to take part in a count contributes to the study and conservation of birds.
Scientists use the collected data to monitor the health and status of resident and migratory birds with the information guiding conservation strategies for species in decline.
14,000 Canadians participated in last year’s nearly 500 Christmas Bird Counts across the country with three million individual birds recorded.
Some of the highlights from last year’s Ontario counts:
• Record numbers of American robins were counted throughout southern and eastern Ontario
• A record 60 bald eagles were recorded during the Holiday Beach count near Windsor
• The first ever tufted titmouse was observed in Owen Sound and a rare winter wren was recorded in Wiarton
• Count participants tallied a record 55 common mergansers in Thunder Bay
• Rare sightings in Ottawa included a fox sparrow, 2 harlequin ducks and a red-bellied woodpecker