Birders will be out in force on Saturday in Kelowna, looking for unique species and counting birds in more than a dozen locations in the annual Christmas bird count.
Close to 50 people will be out in several locations in Kelowna while residents can take part by counting birds in their yard and phoning them in (250-862-8254) to add to the count.
Christmas bird counts are a tradition in North America dating back to the 1900’s, explained local bird count organizer Chris Charlesworth, who noted it’s a way to keep track of trends in bird populations right across the continent.
“It’s a one-day snap-shot of bird populations within the area,” said Charlesworth, who has been taking part in the Kelowna bird count for more than 20 years. “There are trends that you notice. Typically the birds that do well in city’s are doing really well here…a lot of water fowl, geese, ducks and gulls, those birds are doing well. The wood and forest birds (numbers) are going down because the city is always growing and we are hacking down bits of the forest. The wood pecker and the forest species are dropping.”
Each year in Kelowna some 20 to 25,000 birds will be counted, representing between 95 and 105 total species. And each year there are species that are more rare than others.
On Tuesday in Lake Country in that community’s Christmas bird count, birders spotted a red-throated loon among 85 species counted. A rare coastal species, the red-throated loon is not common to the interior.
“It’s always a bit more rewarding for the bird watchers when they get something rare,” said Charlesworth. “The point of the bird count is to document everything we can from the super-common mallards and Canada geese all the way to the rare stuff.”
Charlesworth said the Okanagan Valley is one of the top locations in Canada for bird watching as the warmer climate keeps birds here in the winter and makes for great habitat year round.
Several birds that call the Okanagan home and generally only live in the Okanagan include the canyon wren and Lewis’s woodpecker.
If you would like to take part in the annual Christmas bird count, contact Chris Charlesworth at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 250-718-035.
If you want to count birds around your home on Saturday, report the findings by phone to Eileen at 250-862-8254.