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

Just Posted

Journey Middle School students try out the trades

Program is designed to expose students to career options

Province’s oldest lawyer shares advice for living well at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Saanich swaps last propane-powered Zamboni for electric model

Pearkes arena’s all-electric ice resurfacing fleet to reduce carbon emissions by six tonnes

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

VIDEO: Dashcam records driver’s near-miss near Sooke

Driver crossed four lanes of traffic and back over again, barely missing three other vehicles

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

Mayors call for ‘calmness’ as highway rockslide cuts Tofino, Ucluelet off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Most Read