Victoria Christmas Bird Count – December 2018


December marks the beginning of the Christmas Bird Count in Greater Victoria. As part of the annual count, hundreds of residents head out into the community, including areas on the West Shore, to count the number and species of birds. The Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary is located in the back yard of Pacific Landing in Victoria’s Westshore. The shallow tidal waters of the lagoon support thousands of waterfowl from October through May, making this one of the top birding spots in the region.

Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, an early officer in the then budding Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition-a “Christmas Bird Census”-that would count birds in the holidays rather than hunt them. So began the Christmas Bird Count. These efforts have allowed hobbyists and scientists to monitor population trends and to get just a little closer to nature during the Christmas season.

Blue Heron

More than 2000 communities in North America are assigned standardized 15-mile diameter circles in which to count all the birds they can in a single day. In our area, this covers almost all of the greater Victoria region, so plenty of help is needed.

You don’t have to be an expert birder to participate. Novices will be teamed up with more experienced counters. You can help out by acting as a tally person or as a spotter. If you are more experienced, and are wondering about leading a team, we have areas in need of coordinators.

Most teams start out at first light, and although counting goes on throughout the day, much is completed by noon. There are a few “keeners” who go out looking and listening for owls in the pre-dawn hours, and a few teams of boating birders who check out the offshore waters, weather permitting and suitable boats available. Feeder counts can be reported via the VNHS website.

Golden Eagle

For those who are unsure about participating, or who want to tune-up their bird-counting skills, a number of field trips in early December will serve as a good practice. Check the VNHS Calendar for details.

The Esquimalt Lagoon Christmas Bird Count Tune-up is on December 8th. You do not need to sign-up for this event, simply meet at the bridge at Esquimalt Lagoon at 8:00 a.m. for a chance to tune up your winter bird-spotting identification skills. The official Bird Count on the Esquimalt Lagoon is on December 16th. To volunteer for the count, please contact Ann Nightingale; 250-514-6450.

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