A Blue Jay was spotted during last year’s Christmas Bird Count at Flett Road. (Phil Ranson photo)

A Blue Jay was spotted during last year’s Christmas Bird Count at Flett Road. (Phil Ranson photo)

54th annual Williams Lake Christmas Bird Count coming up Dec.19

Birders take to the trails, roads and birdfeeders again to count songs and sightings

By Phil Ranson

Special to the Tribune

The annual Christmas Bird Count organized by the Williams Lake Field Naturalists will be held on Sunday, Dec. 19.

The first ever Williams Lake count was in January 1969 with 15 observers counting 414 birds of 21 species. The number of observers has risen over the years with around 50 people in the field and at feeders expecting to see at least 50 to 55 species with total counts of anywhere between 3,000 to 5,000 birds. Each year sets a new milestone with new birds added to the list or new records for species high counts.

Last year, the Williams Lake count had almost 5,000 birds of 53 species, which is about average for recent years. Two new species were reported last year; an Anna’s Hummingbird at a Gibbon Street feeder and a Blue Jay spending the winter in the Flett Road area. This brought the total number of species seen since the inception of the count to 123. The only birds that appeared in record high numbers last year were the Common Goldeneye with 62, the House Sparrow with 580 and the Northern Flicker with 82 observed. The latter being the only woodpecker species to show an upward trend. Hairy, Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers continue to be counted in well below average numbers.

This year, the Christmas Bird Count, monitored jointly by the Audubon Society and Birds Canada, will mobilize nearly 80,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,600 locations across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. The Christmas Bird Count utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone. Data compiled locally will record every individual bird and bird species seen within the count circle, contributing to a vast community science network that continues a tradition stretching back 120 years.

The count area is a 24-km diameter circle centered in Williams Lake. Some boundary points include: Wildwood and some of Bull Mountain, Onward Ranch on Mission Road, the northwest end of Brunson Lake in Chimney Valley, Colpitt Lake Road on Dog Creek Road in the south, the Moon Ranch at Meldrum Creek on the west side of the Fraser, and the back end of Fox Mountain beyond the natural gas transmission line in the east.

The count relies heavily on observations from bird feeders which add greatly to the totals. Anyone with an active feeder within the count area is asked to help. If you would like to give an estimate of the number of birds at your feeder on the Dec. 19, please call in your feeder totals to 250-392-0946 after 5:30 p.m. on count day or email Phil at ranson1@telus.net.

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