You can help count backyard birds Saturday

It's the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count in Kelowna Saturday and you can help.

Don Wilson looks through his scope while Stu Weir checks the bird book as they scout out a location in preparation for the annual Kelowna Christmas bird count Saturday.

Birders at Wednesday’s annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count in Lake Country noticed a lot of empty bird feeders when they were out and about, leading one to wonder if people are on hard times and perhaps can’t afford to feed the birds.

Despite that, there was a higher number of birds on their count than last year, from the unofficial results, says Don Wilson, who is coordinating Saturday’s Kelowna-area Christmas Bird Count.

Unofficially, they counted 90 species during the day, with 29 observers out and about. In total, they counted 6,766 birds, including a few unusual ones.

He was most excited by the inclusion of 12 three-toed woodpeckers—seven of those in one spot at the Beaver Lake rec site, but he said there were also three owls counted.

Other unusual species spotted were a northern pintail duck, a Lincoln sparrow, a snow bunting and a Bewick’s wren.

This Saturday, backyard birders are invited to join those in the field, by counting species outside their windows and then calling in or e-mailing a list of the largest number of each particular bird species spotted at one time during the day.

So, if you see four house finches at 10 a.m., two at noon and six at once at 3 p.m., you’d report a total of six house finches at the end of the day. That way you’re not counting any birds twice.

However, do include all the species you identify.

Boundaries for the Kelowna count are downtown Westbank to the south end of Duck Lake; the base of Black Mountain to just past Bertram Creek.

If you live within that area, contact Gwynneth Wilson with your completed count at the end of the day, at 250-762-6876 or at:

Wilson warned there are a few species that are difficult to tell apart. For instance, the song sparrow is sometimes confused with the fox sparrow, but it’s unlikely you’ll see a fox sparrow. If you feel you have, get a good photo of it.

He’s hopeful some backyard birders will also see some raptors hanging around the yard to pick off some of the songbirds, like the coopers or sharp-shinned hawks or the goshawk.

Mostly, he expects to gather numbers of chickadees, finches, juncos, nuthatches and possibility some waxwings.

A Townsend’s solitaire would be a nice find and a white-breasted nuthatch, which is a little larger than a pygmy nuthatch. There have also been a few Anna’s hummingbirds reported still in the valley, although they normally head south.

It’s important to keep seed in your feeders and to keep the feeders clean so you don’t offer moldy seed which can harm birds rather than help them.

Data from this annual count is gathered from all over North American to note trends in bird populations, so participants are part of a continent-wide effort to help out the birds.


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