A Bohemian Waxwing was one of about 800 birds flocking near the end of Duncan Road on North Lakeside last weekend. Phil Ranson photo

A Bohemian Waxwing was one of about 800 birds flocking near the end of Duncan Road on North Lakeside last weekend. Phil Ranson photo

Williams Lake Christmas bird count slated for Dec. 17

Bird watchers are encouraged to participate in the 50th annual bird count

Phil Ranson

Special the Tribune

The Williams Lake Field Naturalists will be conducting their 50th Annual Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, Dec. 17.

The first-ever count was on Jan. 5, 1969 when 15 observers counted 414 birds of 21 species.

Anna Roberts, who is a founding member of the Field Naturalists, was on that first count and will be participating once again this year recording bird numbers at her South Lakeside feeder.

The average count in recent years is more than 4,000 birds of 50 species. That average is expected to be exceeded this year by the 30 counters in the field and 15 – 20 at home watching their bird feeders.

Relatively mild weather forecast for the remainder of the week offers a good chance that there may be at least some open water on Williams Lake which is often needed for high numbers to be tallied.

Other factors for a good count include the multitudes of Bohemian Waxwings which are currently present around town.

They can number into the thousands and can make up to one third of the total numbers, however they will only stay as long as the food supply lasts which consists mainly of Mountain Ash and Juniper berries.

Other birds being seen in good numbers are our winter finches, particularly Common Redpolls and Pine Grosbeaks. These ‘irruptive’ species head north to the boreal forests and sub-arctic to breed and for reasons that are unclear may be completely absent here some winters.

The count is conducted within a 12-kilometre radius of Williams Lake and anyone within that area on Dec. 17 who has a bird feeder is encouraged to keep an eye out and jot down the numbers of any birds they see and contact Fred McMechan at 392-7680 after 5 p.m. on count day.

If you have any questions about the count or would prefer to email your sightings please contact Phil Ranson at ranson1@telus.net.