• Reporter Elaina John

The 122ND Christmas Bird Count


Common Redpol male. Photo submitted

Are you someone who enjoys watching and tracking birds in the area? If so, the Vermilion River Naturalist Society has just an event for you.

Each year Birds Canada and the National Audubon Society help coordinate and support the efforts of more than 2500 counts throughout the Western Hemisphere.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone. Data compiled in Vermilion and area will record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area, contributing to a vast community science network that continues a tradition stretching back 121 years.

Vermilion River Naturalist Society (VRNS) will be holding its annual Christmas Bird Count on December 18 and invites all birdwatchers, regardless of skill level, to participate in the longest-running community science survey.

“We realize that many people are looking for new challenges and opportunities this year. Being part of a major citizen science initiative can be a very rewarding experience. Whether you are able to go hiking or driving around your rural area for several hours or have a bird feeder set up near a window and can spend an hour with your coffee or tea counting the birds at your feeder, you are collecting invaluable data for bird population research,” commented Vermilion River Naturalist Society, Iris Davies.

Each individual count is performed in a count circle with a diameter of 24 kilometers. At least ten volunteers, including a compiler to coordinate the process, count in each circle. The volunteers break up into small parties and follow assigned routes, which change little from year to year, counting every bird they see. In most count circles, some people also watch feeders instead of following routes.

Last year the volunteers recorded 1,289 individual birds and 25 species with 13 field observers and 11 feeder watchers. The group’s best year so far was in 2015 where they recorded 4,348 individual birds and 41 species with 29 field observers and 11 feeder watchers.

The Vermilion Christmas Bird Count will follow all COVID protocols that are posted on the Alberta Government website https://www.alberta.ca/guidance-documents.aspx

To sign up for the Vermilion count and ensure your bird count data make it into the official Audubon database, please contact Iris Davies, ridavies@telusplanet.net 780-847-2677(Home) or 780-853-7573(Cell), or check out the new Facebook page Vermilion Christmas Bird Count. There is no fee to participate.

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