Christmas bird count season

It's Christmas bird count season!

This is the 115th year for Christmas bird counts. Christmas bird counts were started in 1900 with just 27 dedicated birders in 25 locations. From there they have grown and grown! There are now Christmas bird counts at over 2300 locations, and tens of thousands of people volunteer their time to help out.

Western bluebird looking for yew berries to help get him though the winter
It is a great learning experience for new birders because an organizer will pair them up with someone who knows their stuff. It is also a great excuse to get outside and brave the cold weather for people of all ages and skill levels. There is always something worth seeing out there, even if it isn't always what you were looking for. If getting outside in the winter doesn't appeal but you would still love to participate there are also backyard feeder counts. If you have a bird feeder at home this is a count you can do from inside looking out your window!

The amazing wealth of knowledge collected during Christmas bird counts by citizen scientists helps reveal long term trends in populations over huge areas.This is something scientists would be unable to document without the amazing outpouring of public support and enthusiasm during Christmas bird counts.

Trumpeter Swans on a frozen lake
Which birds you'll see depends on which bird count you are doing and which area you get assigned to. A surprising variety of birds use our area in the winter. Some, like the western bluebird pictured above, may stick around for the whole year. Some species that breed way up north, like the trumpeter swans on the left,  just use the Okanagan as a nice warm wintering area. Water fowl, in particular, flock to Vaseux lake and the Marshes around the Osoyoos oxbows to wait out the winter. No matter where you end up, chances are good that you will have lots of fun!

The Penticton and the Lake country counts have already happened, but there are still lots of counts left, so find a count near you and sign up!