The 41st annual Waterton Christmas Bird Count on Friday, December 15th is the perfect colourful winter activity for those who enjoy the outdoors and are interested in birds. Entry to the park is free in celebration of Canada 150 and participation in the event is also free. This is only the second time in the 41 year history of the bird count that there has been a wildfire the summer before the count. How will this year differ from last? In late September, park staff heard many more woodpeckers than usual in some of the closed areas of the park. Will there be more on this year’s count?
Waterton’s Christmas Bird Count is part of the longest running citizen science project in North America. Everyone is welcome, from beginners to expert birders. Participants are invited to spend a couple of hours or more identifying and counting birds in their favourite part of Waterton Lakes National Park that is open to the public. Volunteers self-register at the community fire hall where they pick up their combined winter bird check list and data sheet. Volunteers are then asked to gather at 2 p.m. at the Waterton Lakes Lodge to discuss sightings. Data sheets provided to participants at the start can be handed in at that time or submitted electronically within two weeks of the count date. If volunteers are unable to attend the official count day or they are interested in coming for more than one day, they can also record the species they have seen during the count week. Count week is three days before and three days after the official count day. On those six extra days the number of individual birds seen per species aren’t tracked, only the species.
The Audubon Society started the Christmas Bird Count in 1900. Data collected during the Waterton count is submitted to Audubon and Bird Studies Canada. Combined with other data from Alberta, Canada and the rest of North America, the information helps researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. For more information about the Waterton Christmas Bird Count please visit: http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/
We are encouraging volunteers to sign up for this great event.