Volunteers needed for the Christmas Bird Count

Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists

December is the month for the annual Christmas Bird Count which therefore made it one of the topics up for discussion at the most recent meeting of the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists. Ilka Milne, president of the club has once again volunteered to organize the event which is something she has taken on for the past 20 years.

The Annual Christmas Bird Count, North America’s longest-running Citizen Science project started in 1900 with bird counts happening in over 2000 localities throughout the Western Hemisphere. The information collected by the thousands of volunteer participants form one of the world’s largest sets of wildlife survey data which is used by the conservation biologists and naturalists daily to assess both the population trends and the distribution of birds. They are organized at the local level, usually as group efforts, and often by a birding club or naturalist organization.

Each Christmas Bird Count is conducted on a single day between the time period of December 14 and January 5, with this year’s local count being held Saturday, December 19. The counts are carried out within a predetermined 24-km diameter circle that stays the same from year to year. A map on the ‘Birds Canada’ website shows all the current count circles and their boundaries within our country including the Fort Frances count circle which was established 25 years ago in 1995. Although the local count is organized by the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists, everyone is invited to help. This year COVID 19 has necessitated a few changes; we will not have the annual Christmas Bird Count wind-up potluck dinner, and the survey groups are restricted to small teams of family members and/or close friends within your own ‘social bubble’. Everybody can also participate as an individual, whether from home by being part of the ‘feeder counters’ and counting the birds that visit your own backyard feeder OR you can volunteer to take on a piece of the count circle by yourself to walk and drive in search of birds. The Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists would really appreciate all help from people on that day, especially those with bird feeders, even if you’re only able to keep an eye on the feeders for part of the day. Should we not be able to do our local count on Saturday December 19 due to inclement weather, the date will be rescheduled and announced on the club website at rrvfn.org. Please email Ilka Milne (Fort Frances CBC compiler) at boghaunter@yahoo.ca. for more information, and if you’re interested in participating.