Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bird count goes Saturday

The annual Christmas Bird Count is set to happen this Saturday (Dec. 14) and more participants are encouraged to help out.
As in past years, participants will be making a “big circle” around the district and covering different sectors—counting the number of birds and bird species they can see.

“The travelling field teams have been organized and as always, we would welcome more participants who could ride with an existing team to provide another set of eyes or offer to cover a portion of the count circle with their own vehicle,” said Ilka Milne, who is co-ordinating the bird count.
“We find the Town of Fort Frances particularly challenging to survey because in one day it is not possible for one team to thoroughly examine every feeder, fruit tree, hedge, and laneway which might be sheltering birds,” she explained.
“So, if you happen to have a regular route you walk and you’re out on Saturday, we would appreciate it if people could keep their eyes open for birds and call in their observations.”
The count will begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday and finish at 7 a.m. on Sunday.
Milne added that “feeder-watchers” also are needed.
“To be a feeder-watcher, all you need to do is keep track of the maximum number of each species of bird you see at your feeder or in your yard in between 7 a.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday, and keep track of how much time you spent actually looking,” she noted.
Milne said feeder-watchers are especially needed in town, as well as for feeders that are not easily visible from the road as the travelling teams are likely to miss them.
“And even when they do spot them, [they] are likely to miss the birds because with such a big area to cover, they don’t spend much time in any one place,” she reasoned.
The results collected in the 24 hours will be reported to the Audubon Society.
But Milne noted they also accept “count week” observations.
This means that on the count day, if they miss a species they expected to see, and they either saw it a few days before the count or it turns up not long afterwards, they can be submitted if they are within the week of the count day.
“This is especially likely with species we don’t see many of at any one time, like owls, shrikes, hawks, ducks, and songbirds which have failed or are late to migrate,” Milne said.
She also encouraged people to feed the birds.
“We’ve noticed that there aren’t as many people feeding birds as there used to be in town,” Milne remarked, noting perhaps it is because the deer have discouraged people from keeping their feeders up.
“With the early heavy snow, we expect the birds will be eager for hand-outs, and easier to count, if they are concentrating around feeders on count day,” she added.
“A high-hanging feeder or suet might do the trick.”
To call in results or inquire about participating, contact Milne at 274-2988.

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