Volunteers Put Eyes To The Sky For Christmas Bird Count

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Volunteers Put Eyes To The Sky For Christmas Bird Count

Bird lovers were out in groves last month to keep an eye on bird population and better understand their migration patterns.

The Christmas Bird Count takes place across North America every year and is conducted by volunteers as a way track of birds in the western hemisphere.

This year’s count does show a decrease in population for some birds native to the area, such as redpolls, pine grosbeaks and woodpeckers.

Organizer Christine Godwin tells Fort McMurray News the count is a way to track what species are in what areas and how they are doing.

“The problem that we have is that a lot of species undergo natural cycles. So, it takes these really long term datasets to understand if trends are increasing, decreasing or if it’s just part of a natural fluctuation in numbers.”

Godwin adds that the decrease might be attributed to the overall aftermath of the 2016 wildfire – with many wildlife areas being destroyed, leaving little in the way of vegetation and food resources.

According to the count, 3,754 total birds were tallied, including 31 different species.

Godwin says the majority of the birds counted were ravens but there were quite a few other notable species.

“A varied thrush, which is very unusual for this time of year in this region. It was found over in Saprae Creek. There were a number of northern hawk owls and northern shrike, which do migrate to this region – they managed to hang around a little bit later this fall.”

Godwin hopes to see the native bird population rise again when they conduct the Spring Count in May as the region’s restoration continues.
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