Kris Andrews spotted this Northern Pygmy Owl on White Road during last year’s annual Christmas bird count.

Kris Andrews spotted this Northern Pygmy Owl on White Road during last year’s annual Christmas bird count.

Christmas Bird Count Sunday

Sunday, Dec. 14 will mark the 47th consecutive year the Williams Lake Field Naturalists have conducted the Christmas Bird Count.

Sunday, Dec. 14 will mark the 47th consecutive year the Williams Lake Field Naturalists have conducted the Christmas Bird Count and 115 years since the original count was undertaken in 1900.

Since that time the number of counts have grown to the current 2,300 across North and Central America.

From its inception year in 1969 until 2000, data from the Williams Lake count was submitted to the provincial government, either the Fish and Wildlife Branch or the provincial museum.

Since 2000, data has been submitted to Birds Studies Canada and the Audubon Society who jointly administer the collection and distribution of the vast array of information obtained over the Christmas period.

Since the first count in 1969, the field naturalists have recorded about 120,000 birds of 119 species on the single day census run between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.

Numbers of birds and species vary from year to year with a scant 21 species tallied the first year to a high count of 62 species in 2008.

Several factors play an important role in the number of birds seen; from the numbers of observers in the field, to weather conditions on the day and in the preceding weeks.

Snow and ice conditions can determine availability and accessibility of food supply as well as variables like cone seed and berry crops.

A good fir and spruce cone crop last winter, as well as an ample supply of juniper berries resulted in a bumper year for both the fir seed eating Red Crossbills and the Townsend’s Solitaire which rely heavily on juniper berries for winter sustenance.

It was a record year for Solitaires with 85 counted which was not only the best total for this area but was also the highest on any count in Canada.

Red Crossbills which were quite common last winter have yet to be reported this season and indications are that Solitaires numbers are also down due in part to a poor berry crop.

Last year’s count of 3,953 birds of 47 species was below the 10-year average of 4,200 birds of 53 species and it’s difficult to predict what will turn up on Sunday, Dec. 14.

Even with the relatively low numbers last year there were still nine species which occurred in record high numbers, many of these at bird feeders.

With the early date of this year’s count there’s always the hope there will be some open water on Williams Lake to add to the variety of birds seen.

Bird feeders attract not only our more common species but also provide us with some quite unusual birds in winter.

The Scarlet Tanager frequenting a Terra Ridge feeder on the 2012 count was a once in a lifetime occurrence.

Feeder watchers contribute greatly to the count and the field naturalists encourage everyone with a feeder to let us know what they see on count day.

The count area is a 24 kilometre circle centred in downtown Williams Lake.

For more information on the Williams Lake Christmas Bird Count please contact Phil Ranson at 250 398-7110 or ranson1@telus.net.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LADDER USED IN FIRE FIGHT: While smoke billows out of the second floor of the Maple Leaf Hotel, members of the Williams Lake Volunteer Fire Department fight to contain the blaze. The department was called out Tuesday morning to battle the blaze that wreaked havoc on the interior of the 57-year-old hotel. One man, Harold Hurst of Riske Creek, died in the fire. (Ernest Engemoen photo - Williams Lake Tribune, April 12, 1977)
FROM OUR ARCHIVES: Ladder used in fire fight

The department was called out Tuesday morning to battle the blaze

Provincial funding in the amount of $300,000 has been announced for the Cariboo Regional District’s plans to improve the Anahim Lake Airport runway. (CRD photo)
$300,000 provincial funding to fuel Anahim Lake Airport runway upgrade

The recovery grant is one of 38 announced to support jobs in rural communities

Lake City Secondary School principal Craig Munroe. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
OUR HOMETOWN: Lifelong learner

Lake City Secondary School principal Craig Munroe got his first teaching job in Williams Lake

Mayor Walt Cobb waves from atop a tractor as he turns onto Oliver Street in the Daybreak Rotary’s annual Stampede Parade. Patrick Davies photo.
Lack of funding, volunteers has Daybreak Rotary bowing out of Williams Lake Stampede parade

Club learned this week it won’t be receiving local government funding, for the second year in a row

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Migrant farm workers transplant jalapeno sprouts from trucks into the tilted soil at a farm. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)
‘They’re afraid’: Coalition sounds alarm over COVID vaccines for B.C.’s migrant workers

Though health ministry says anyone can get vaccinated, critics say barriers are keeping migrants from their dose

(File photo)
Federal Court exonerates Kamloops Mountie in burger beef dispute

A Federal Court ruling has overturned punishment in case involving a cop, McDonald’s manager

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing escalates to stabbing in Nanaimo

Victim, struck with coffee cup and then stabbed, suffers minor injuries; suspect arrested

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

BC Emergency Health Services Advanced Care Paramedic Practice Educator Trevor Campbell. (Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation - Contributed)
ECG machines onboard Okanagan ambulances for quickest response to heart attacks

Donations from Lake Country, Predator Ridge, Vernon and Armstrong behind purchase of 8 live-saving machines

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

Most Read