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South Delta bird count 2nd in Canada
The South Delta area again had one of the most diverse populations of bird species in all of Canada, after the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count last month found 133 different types of birds. Hundreds of volunteer birdwatchers combed Ladner and Tsawwassen on Dec. 22, hoping to spot as many different species as possible.
Organizer Jude Grass said the local count was second only to Victoria, where 140 species were counted.
“It’s usually between us and Victoria every year,” said Grass, who has been involved in the local count for more than 40 years.
Volunteers counted bird species in a 24 km-diameter circular area covering much of South Delta. Among the birds spotted were a handful of rare species for this area, such as the mountain bluebird, the Pacific golden plover, and the red-naped sapsucker.
“It’s a fantastic area to see birds,” said Grass. “We have the Alaksen Wildlife Refuge, the Reifel bird sanctuary, Boundary Bay. It’s very important habitat.”
The Fraser River Delta is not only home to a large population of resident birds, but is the wintering grounds for migratory birds.
The area is one of the 2,168 “Wetlands of International Importance,” as recognized by the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, ratified by 168 countries worldwide.
The Audubon Christmas Bird Count was founded 114 years ago and currently takes place in every Canadian province and territory, all 50 of the United States, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Pacific Islands.
Grass said the bird count is an important way to measure the health of the local bird population, which can have a direct impact on the human population.
“Predators like owls help keep pest populations, like rats and mice, in check,” she says. “We need birds to eat the berries to drop the seeds to grow. It would be a very different place without birds.”