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By the Bay: Another record-setting bird count
An exciting day of birdwatching resulted in Delta once again coming first in Canada in the annual National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count, with 146 species recorded on Dec. 23. This event has been going strong for 113 years across North America (since 1957 in Ladner), with groups of local birdwatchers braving wintry weather to count every bird they see and hear.
To the non-naturalist, this might not sound too entertaining, but it is actually a really friendly, fun event, involving a wide range of people of all birdwatching abilities.
Often the first step to becoming keen on wild birds is to hang a bird feeder and watch the chickadees and nuthatches descend. Vary the food provided (sunflower seeds, suet, peanuts) and different birds arrive. A field guide can be used to sort out their names.
Taking a stroll in the park is another good way to get into birding, as Delta has an abundance of birds in every season, so there is always something interesting to see.
Our mild climate allows even hummingbirds to winter here, and the Fraser River delta’s key location on the Pacific Flyway brings millions of migrant birds in spring and fall. Birdwatchers often keep notes on what they see, including breeding records, annual lists and life lists. A “lifer” bird, the first one you ever see, is always exciting. Some birders even do a ‘Big Year’, as described humorously in a 2011 movie.
You can make friends anywhere in the world by joining a nature club and going birdwatching. The Delta Naturalists’ Society welcomes visitors at its regular activities including the Casual Birders: www.dncb.wordpress.com. B.C. Nature, a provincial federation, offers field trips, conservation and stewardship activities. Bird Studies Canada runs citizen science programs including Christmas Bird Counts, the B.C. Breeding Bird Atlas, coastal waterbird and beached bird surveys. B.C. Field Ornithologists also caters for keen and novice birders.