Local birders gearing up for annual Christmas Bird Count

Soon it will be time to take part in an adventure that has become a family tradition among generations.

Local birders will have their eyes peeled for the house finch and dozens of other species that inhabit the East Kootenay during the month of December.

Local birders will have their eyes peeled for the house finch and dozens of other species that inhabit the East Kootenay during the month of December.

Daryl Calder

Birders always anticipate the arrival of December. Soon it will be time to take part in an adventure that has become a family tradition among generations. Cranbrook, Kimberley, Fernie and Elkford naturalists will join tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas who leave the comfort of a warm house during the holiday season.

Armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists, families and students, birders and scientists head out on the annual mission to count the birds. For over 100 years, the desire to both make a difference and experience the beauty of nature has motivated ‘citizen scientists’ to brave the elements.

The annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world, will take place from December 14, 2014, until January 5, 2015.

Everyone who heads out, no matter what the weather holds, makes an enormous contribution to conservation. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations, and to help guide conservation action.

From feeder-watchers and field observers to count compilers and regional editors, everyone who takes part in the Christmas Bird Count does it not only for love of birds and the excitement of friendly competition, but also with the knowledge that their efforts make a difference for science and bird conservation.

Please consider joining these local counts, all are welcome. In Cranbrook and Kimberley, the Rocky Mountain Naturalists will organize counts before and after Christmas. In the morning, at 8:45 a.m., we will meet, form into groups, look at the map and at 9 a.m, begin to examine our particular designated zone. At around 5:30 p.m. we head over to the organizer’s home for a pot luck and count up.

Feeder watchers and field counters are encouraged to seek more information. In the East Kootenays, contact:

• Fernie: Sunday, Dec. 14. Kevin Knight,  250-430-7960, Fernie Nature Club

• Elkford: Thursday, Dec. 18.  Ulrike Sliworsky,  250-865-7744.

• Cranbrook: Saturday, Dec. 20.  Greg Ross,  250-489-2566

• Kimberley: Sunday, Jan. 4.  Dianne Cooper, 250-427-1921