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  • Vermilion Voice

Christmas Bird Count

Wildlife and Conservation graduate, Alyssa Metro, who travelled two hours to take part in Vermilion’s Christmas Bird Count on December 17, carefully inspects Chickadees in a tree. Photos Angela Mouly

Birders bit the bitter cold and counted the numbers of different bird species around Vermilion on December 17.

Four teams covered quadrants within a 24 km circle surrounding Vermilion throughout the day, stopping at farms, feed yards, and anywhere they might find a good environment for birds.

The tradition dates back to 1900 when Ornithologist, Frank Chapman, opted to start a new tradition of counting birds on Christmas. Before that, a more common tradition was to host a Christmas bird hunt.

Since Chapman's was a more friendly approach to bird science, Christmas bird counts are now held in thousands of locations in North America and collectively report information about bird populations in their winter environments.

In Vermilion, the Christmas Bird Count has been held since the 1980’s, with Chris Olsen attending since 1992.

This year, Wildlife and Conservation graduates Alyssa Metro and Caleb Corcoran joined Olsen’s team for their bird counting adventure.

“My team members are particularly keen and drove two hours to participate with the weather somewhere around -30 degrees Celsius,” said Chris Olsen who teaches Ornithology among other things at Lakeland College.

Interested in the numbers and species richness, birders followed tree lines and feeders to see as many birds as possible with them in hiding from the cold weather.

“Chickadees’ brains swell in the fall so they can keep track of where they are hiding their food in the winter,” said Olsen.

Wildlife and Conservation graduate, Caleb Corcoran, spies a Chickadee during the 2016 Christmas Bird Count.

Dressed in many layers, this birding team knew numbers would be down due to the extreme cold, but remained hopeful after having an extraordinary year last year spotting a Bald Eagle and a Saw-whet Owl.

“I’ve just always been interested in wildlife,” said Alyssa Metro, who traveled to Vermilion just for the Christmas Bird Count.

For results, please see next week’s issue of the Vermilion Voice.

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