Avid birders Liam Singh, left, and Rick Schortinghuis look out over Esquimalt Lagoon while on an outing with the Victoria Natural History Society. The annual Christmas Bird Count takes place on Saturday, Dec. 16 in Victoria, Langford and Colwood beginning at 8 a.m. There are also counts on Sunday, Dec. 17 and in Metchosin and Sooke on Thursday, Dec. 28. (Ann Nightingale photo)

Bird watchers gear up for annual count

Count takes place in Langford, Colwood, Victoria, North and Central Saanich

It’s a special time of year for Ann Nightingale – and not just because it’s the holidays.

December marks the beginning of the Christmas Bird Count in Greater Victoria. As part of the annual count, hundreds of residents head out into the community, including areas on the West Shore, to count the number and species of birds.

“There are over 50,000 people who participate in the Christmas Bird Count [across North America],” said Nightingale, a Central Saanich resident and self-proclaimed “bird nerd,” who has been involved in the count for the past two decades. “I’m always excited about it. It’s so great to see so many people in the community come out and participate.”

RELATED: Birders prep for Christmas count

The count originally started in 1900 by Frank Chapman who wanted to see an alternative to the traditional Christmas hunt in which hunters went out and shot as many animal as they could – the majority of which were birds. Chapman wanted to maintain the competitiveness, but not at the expense of killing animals, and thus the Christmas Bird Count was born.

Locally, the Victoria bird count has been taking place since the 1950s. Volunteers are split into teams and assigned to cover a 15 kilometre diameter circle.

Last year, more than 200 birders across the region counted 75,000 birds. On the West Shore, hot spot bird-counting areas include Triangle Mountain, Esquimalt Lagoon, Mill Hill, Alberta Head and Langford Lake.

RELATED: Christmas bird count a West Shore holiday tradition

The count also allows bird-watchers to keep track of local populations. Nightingale said there are a number of birds that were counted in the region years ago, but are rarely seen now, such as the city and ruffed grouse, black scooter and western screech owls. But there are some that are starting to reappear such as the white sprouted sparrow, swan sparrows, Anna’s hummingbird and the barn owl.

On occasion rare birds can also be seen, such as the red wing or the turdus iliacus, that was spotted in the Strawberry Vale area in 2015, which Nightingale said normally lives in Europe and Asia and seems to have its “compass turned around,” and instead of flying south west for the winter, has been flying south east.

“When I’m out birding, I am connected to the environment. I feel like I am where I belong, sharing the space with the plants and animals that call that place home,” Nightingale said.

“I know that when I’m looking at the birds, they are looking back at me. If by recognizing and counting the birds, I can contribute to conserving them, so much the better.”

The Christmas Bird Count takes place on Saturday, Dec. 16 in Victoria, Langford and Colwood beginning at 8 a.m. There are also counts in Sidney, Central and North Saanich, and South Salt Spring on Sunday, Dec. 17, and in Metchosin and Sooke on Thursday, Dec. 28.

For more information or to volunteer with the count visit christmasbirdcount.ca or email victoriacbc@naturevictoria.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

kendra.wong@goldstreamgazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Undercover operation exposes prominent human trafficking problem in Greater Victoria

VicPD’s Operation No More took place in mid-June at a local hotel

Victoria man in custody after shooting in 100-block of Gorge Road East

The man is facing recommended charges including assault with a weapon

Langford approves permit for 124-unit mass timber building

Tallwood 1 to be completed by late 2021

Book stores in Victoria notice uptick in sales for anti-racism titles

White Fragility, How to be an Antiracist are among the best selling titles

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Tsilhqot’in Nation demands meeting with feds on declining Fraser River chinook stocks

The Nation wants to partner with DFO to rebuild and recover the stocks

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

‘A little bit scary for everybody’: Air passengers wary as new rules take effect

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20

VIDEO: Prince William and Kate chat with B.C. hospital staff about COVID-19

Seven-minute video posted to Youtube on Canada Day

River centre says heavy rains could bring flooding to central, northeastern B.C.

Water levels are already unusually high and river banks can be extremely unstable

Campbell River’s defunct cruise ship terminal to undergo evaluation for future plans

With no cruise ship coming through, the $16million terminal has been a white elephant for over 13 years

Most Read