Birders are needed for the annual 100 Mile House Christmas Bird Count.
Bird count co-ordinator Paul Foth said he requires at least six more birders, experienced or aspiring, to make this year’s count a success on Saturday, Dec. 16. Foth said the bird count is an important way for conservationists and scientists to monitor the health of the South Cariboo’s bird population.
“We don’t have as many volunteers signed up this year as we did the last couple of years. We’re always looking for more people (and welcome them),” Foth said. “Ideally I’d like to have 12 to 15 volunteers who are able to count out in the count zones. I have about six right now.”
Foth said the bird count begins early in the morning when birds are at their most active. Split into pairs, counters will roam assigned sections of the count area that extends from 93 Mile House to the 108 Mile Ranch with 100 Mile House in the centre. Throughout the day they’ll count as many birds and species as they can find in that area until night falls.
Rookie birders will be teamed up with more experienced birders for the duration of the count. Foth said that if you have binoculars or cameras with long lenses to bring them on the day of the count, to make spotting birds easier.
“It’s a lot of fun to do the bird count. You get to meet other birders and get to know the birds in your area,” Foth said. “When you do find flocks of birds it really brightens up the cold days. It also takes you to places you wouldn’t otherwise consider going to, so there’s always some surprises in store.”
Those who are unable to go searching for birds in the wild can still take part in the count, Foth said. If a bird feeder is set up on your property, you can monitor it and take note of all the species you see throughout the day.
This year Foth said there’s potential for the count to see some unique species of birds. While the count always finds birds like chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches and woodpeckers this year he said waterfowl and migrant songbirds may have stayed in the South Cariboo due to the relatively warm weather. During the winter Foth said his favourite birds to look for are owls like short-eared owls and northern pygmy owls.
“It’s been a milder fall so far, so there’s potential for it to be a mild winter. If some of the lakes and creeks remain unfrozen we might get more ducks and waterfowl species counted which is always exciting because there are not many birds up here in the winter.”
Anyone who wants to sign up can contact Foth at 250-948-0849 or email@example.com. All who sign up will receive a map of the count area and forms to record the number of birds they see.