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Citizen scientists flock to local bird count

Birders counted 55 species Saturday as part of annual event that wrapped up with a pot-luck dinner
2018-12-16 xcbcount
Local birders, such as Patrick Jackson, above, counted 55 species Saturday as part of the Orillia Christmas Bird Count. Contributed photo

The Orillia Christmas Bird Count was held Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018.

This is the biggest Citizen Science project undertaken by many nature clubs.

People drive around in cars, walk sometimes, check out feeders, ask friends to check out their feeders, too, and eventually, after the potluck, at the evening Tally we come up with a list, which we submit to Bird Studies Canada.

There are different challenges every year.

This year the driving was easy, there was very little snow, but the fog lasted until almost noon. As we looked out into the fog, we wondered how many birds were hidden to us.

Most years we check out feeders, where the birds congregate, and this is a major part of our numbers. This year the birds didn’t pay much attention to the feeders, since there was ample food in the cedars, or under the leaves on the ground.

Nevertheless, we recorded 55 species. This included three species that have never been recorded on a Christmas Bird Count here, since 1981.They are a Shoveler (a type of duck), a Turkey Vulture, and a Greater White-fronted Goose. Red-bellied Woodpeckers had a new high for the count, of 13.

The bird count is almost finished for another year, but anything seen until Tuesday (that was not recorded in the tally) can be added to the list as a count week bird – that means that they are in the vicinity, and therefore significant.

Fern Spichal is a master organizer, Ron Reid led the tally, and Warren Ryckman presided over a great pot luck.

Thanks to everyone who made this a success.