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24th Carden Alvar Christmas Bird Count

We started our bird and mammal count, at the nature centre, just after the sun rose on Monday January 3rd. It was certainly a very chilly start with the temperature registering -15 Celsius. But as the day went on it brought some wonders - well worth being outdoors and participating in this very important activity.

The official Christmas Bird Count (CBC) including mammals is held every year between mid December and the first week of January. The National Audubon Society began the count 122 years ago. Prior to this birds and mammals were shot on Christmas day instead of observed and counted.

Birds Canada have been coordinating the Canadian counts since 2000. Bob Bowles, the official founder and compiler for the Carden Alvar circle, organized approximately 38 volunteers into small teams, covering a 24 kilometer circle around the alvar. Bob divided our area into 11 sections with 2-4 people on each team. This is the second year a different format has been used due to the virus pandemic with no meetings and more counters (volunteers). Covid protocols were followed.

All birds seen or heard are tallied. The counting and reporting of each bird and species provides important information that is used by ornithologists and conservation biologists.

This information helps with discovering trends, the health of particular species, and how birds are responding to climate change. It also measures how bird populations have changed over time which enables strategies to be implemented to protect birds and their habitat.

Our team covered an area of 77 kilometers from Sebright, Ontario, along the western edge of the circle boundary, south to Bolsover, Ontario. Just south of Sebright a bald eagle was spotted. Bob set up his spotting scope and zoomed in to a spectacular close up view of this predatory bird. One of the wonders of the day!

Bald Eagle

Other wonders, just to name a few - cooper's hawk, pine grosbeaks, juncos, cedar waxwings, snow buntings and one barred owl. Our final tally was 22 species, with over 650 birds observed.

Cooper's Hawk

Blue Jay

Photo Credits - Martha Lawrence

Bob Bowles complied all the numbers from each group, tallying 44 species and 3,263 birds. Good finds included 2 Canada Jays, 1 Eastern Bluebird, 1 White-throated Sparrow, 1 Common Grackle and 12 White-winged Crossbills. This year Mallards, Gulls and House Sparrows were not observed or heard.

9 mammal species and a total of 140 mammals were seen.

Time spent volunteering each year for the annual Christmas Bird Count, including mammals, is a great way to connect with the natural world, learn and identify different species and provide valuable data to the National Audubon Society and Bird Canada. You officially become a 'Citizen Scientist' and these wonderful creatures entertain you during the winter months.

We hope to 'Count You In' for next year's official bird count.

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