Williams Lake field naturalists will be holding their 46th Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, Dec. 15, a tradition that goes back to 1969 in the lakecity.
The count will be one of over 400 counts across Canada involving some 12,000 volunteers.
Our local count will have 30 to 35 people in the field with another 20 or so counting birds at their feeders.
The 24 kilometre diameter count area takes in more than 450 square kilometres from Bull Mountain almost to 150 Mile House and from Meldrum Creek to beyond Fox Mountain.
Much of the area is inaccessible in winter so counters generally concentrate on areas and roads around habitation where most of the birds are likely to be found at this time of year.
Last year’s 3,647 birds of 56 species were counted which was nearly 1,000 fewer birds than the previous year, however, an additional seven species were tallied.
It is difficult to speculate how many will be seen this year.
It looks like the lake and most of the river will be frozen.
Our highest count occurred in 2008 when the lake was mostly open and we had 64 species including many waterfowl.
There are currently large flocks of Bohemian Waxwings numbering up to 2,000, feeding on mountain ash berries around town but most may well have departed by count day.
Each year brings some surprises, none more so than last year when a Scarlet Tanager showed up at a Terra Ridge feeder.
This was something special and completely unexpected for our area.
Special in that the bird was located and identified by now 92-year-old Marion Corless, and unexpected as this bird normally winters in the tropics of South America and was making its first appearance on a Christmas Bird count anywhere in Canada.
Bird feeders contribute greatly to our numbers and we would ask that anyone with a feeder in the count area to let us know what birds they see on Sunday.
Observe the feeder at its busiest, usually in the morning and get an estimate of the numbers and species seen.
Please call in your list to 392-7680 after 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need help identifying the birds at your feeder, call Phil at 250-398-7110.