While many look forward to New Year’s Eve, a group of local birders is planning for a great time Jan. 4.
That’s when they’ll join the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count — North America's longest-running citizen science project.
Rain or shine, sleet or snow, the Tri-City birding enthusiasts will hike into forests and marshes, and along the shorelines in Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam, to count birds and bird species. Those numbers will add to a massive data project that gives us an understanding of how birds are doing, their population trends and distribution over the decades.
Started by Audubon Society more than 100 years ago, the Christmas Bird Count has become a popular event for local nature enthusiasts.
For Rob Butler, an ornithologist, researcher, writer and popular speaker, the count is also an opportunity to have some fun with other birders.
“Jan. 4 is the count day, when I join John Reynolds and George Clulow in the Minnekhada and Widgeon Slough area in what is becoming a tradition to try to see as many species as possible,” Butler said.
Participating in the bird count can also have its highs and lows. One year, the trio didn’t see any black-capped chickadees.
“So each year, we celebrate when we do see a chickadee," Butler said.
The local group Burke Mountain Naturalists has been participating in the Tri-Cities portion of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count for the past 25 years and will be out again this year, with volunteers assigned to a team that is sent to one of 14 areas, including Colony Farm, Como Lake, Inlet Park, Lafarge Lake and along the Coquitlam River. Participants can also join in by watching their feeders that day if their yard is located within the count circle.
The event begins at 8 a.m. and groups may be out for two to eight hours depending on the assigned area, according to the BMN website.
• For more information about the local bird count and the Burke Mountain Naturalists, visit https://www.burkemountainnaturalists.ca/