While the pandemic has shut down countless events and activities, the Christmas Bird Count still takes flight.
The annual event that draws about 300 participants will different this year, says organizer Ann Nightingale. On Saturday, Dec. 19, Greater Victoria birders will be assigned an area to cover once daylight arrives.
Whether they be by themselves or in their household bubble, participants until the end of day to spot as many birds they can and report back during a Zoom meeting in the evening.
“Finding a rare bird is always icing on the cake during the holidays,” said Nightingale, a board member of Rocky Point Bird Observatory (RPBO). “It’s been such a great year to take up birding, as getting outside for walks is still allowed during COVID.”
Victoria has one of the largest participation rates for the Christmas Bird Count in North America, with 286 people out in the field in 2019. Nightingale has been with the RPBO for 24 years and has taken part in 19 Christmas bird counts in Greater Victoria.
Although they expect fewer people this year, she’s encouraging people stuck at home to join in as well. Last year, participants identified 135 different kinds of birds within a single day.
“All you have to do is look out into your yard and count how many bird species you see,” Nightingale said.
On their website, the RPBO boasts a gallery of photos for commonly seen birds and rare ones too, so people who don’t have much experience with birding can participate.
The Christmas Bird Count has the longest history of any citizen science projects that date as far back as the early 1900s. There are more than 2,500 counts in North America that participate in the annual bird count in late December to early January.
Greater Victoria’s count extends from the south of Island View Beach Road in Central Saanich to Witty’s Lagoon in Metchosin.
The count is planned on Dec. 19; Sidney is planned for Dec. 20 and another in Sooke is set for Dec. 27.
Those interested in taking part can fill out a form at bit.ly/VictoriaChristmasBirdCount.