A Lark Sparrow was spotted last year during the Christmas Bird Count 2021, an unusual sighting for the area. (Williams Lake Field Naturalists photo)

A Lark Sparrow was spotted last year during the Christmas Bird Count 2021, an unusual sighting for the area. (Williams Lake Field Naturalists photo)

55th Annual Williams Lake Christmas Bird Count Sunday, Dec. 18

Once again, birdwatchers will get out their binoculars and sharpen their ears for birdsong

Phil Ranson

Special to the Tribune

The Christmas Bird Count organized by the Williams Lake Field Naturalists will be held on Sunday, Dec. 18 this year.

The first 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 about 50 people in the field and at bird feeders.

Over the last decade an average of over 5,000 birds of 53 species have been counted. Each year sets milestones with new birds added to the list or new records for species high counts.

Conversely, the count over time, also provides evidence for declining species.

Last year, Williams Lake had a record count of over 9,000 birds of 54 species, of which a little over half consisted of a single species; the Bohemian Waxwing, which had briefly invaded the area in search of mountain ash and juniper berries.

Only one new species for the count was reported last year; a Lark Sparrow at an Opal Street feeder.

A very unusual bird in this area, previously only reported in June and July and is only the third winter record for the province.

These birds generally winter in the south-western United States and Mexico.

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; 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 jointly monitored 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. All counts are conducted within a 24 km diameter circle, with our Williams Lake count centred at Boitanio Park.

Backyard bird feeders account for sizeable proportion of the count totals and often produce some of the most interesting finds on the day.

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 Dec. 18, please call in your feeder totals to 250 392-0946 after 5:30 p.m. on count day or email ranson1@telus.net

Read more: Williams Lake Christmas Bird Count results sees first-ever sighting for the lakecity


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