Joanne Vinnedge (L) and Laurie Pletzer spot some birds while on the Christmas Bird Count in 2008.

Joanne Vinnedge (L) and Laurie Pletzer spot some birds while on the Christmas Bird Count in 2008.

Christmas Bird Count

The 30th annual Fort Saint James Christmas Bird Count will take place on Tuesday, December 27.

In 1900, American ornithologist Frank Chapman asked birders across North America to head out on Christmas Day to count the birds in their home towns and submit the results as the first “Christmas Bird Census.” The Christmas Bird Count, as it is now called, is conducted in over 2,000 localities across Canada, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. These bird observations have been amassed into a huge database that reflects the distribution and numbers of winter birds over time.

Christmas Bird Counts are conducted on any one day between December 14 and January 5 inclusive. They are carried out within a 24 km diameter circle that stays the same from year to year. Christmas counts are generally group efforts, though single-observer counts can and do happen. They are organized at the local level, usually by a birding club or naturalists organization.

I have been the local compiler since 1981.  We generally have a group of about 10 observers who go out in the field and count all the birds they see within a 24 km diameter centered on the local post office.  We census by car, on foot, snowshoe, ski, dogsled and horseback.  We also rely on a group of dedicated bird feeder watchers, who keep track of the birds coming to their feeder during the day.  People like Derry Halleran and Mrs. Lutkehaus have been volunteer feeder watchers for me for close to the 30 years. Other observers like Keith Gordon and Randy Rawluk have been an invaluable help over the years. Sandra Kinsey, Laird Law, and Nancy Kreuger are dedicated birders who often travel from Prince George to help. Volunteers are always welcome, and can participate in a number of ways.

You can watch your bird feeder, or join us for all or part of the day. No experience necessary.  For more information, or to volunteer, please contact Joanne Vinnedge at 250-996-7401.