This year I participated in the Christmas Bird Count (2013 results not posted yet). Contrary to its title, it does not happen on Christmas Day, it just happens around Christmas. I have limited knowledge of the different bird species and can only pinpoint a handful of species with any degree of certainty (black-capped chickadees, blue jays, etc.), but I figured it would be worthwhile to just go ahead and try it out, especially as I knew I could be pared up with some birders. I did use a list of bird species seen in Edmonton in the winter (City of Edmonton Bird Checklist, by the Edmonton Nature Club; notes frequency by season, etc.) to review some of the birds that I might see, but most of it didn’t stick. So, other than being pretty good at spotting and counting birds, I wasn’t a huge amount of help.
Fortunately, the person I was with, Doug, is an experienced birder and was able to at least narrow down the birds to a small collection of possible species, which made it easy for me to whip out my book and confirm our guesses.
It was a nice way to spend a Sunday morning. The weather was lovely, though the sidewalks and trails were a bit icy from the previous day’s freezing rain. We didn’t see a huge number of birds, but we did see a couple cool ones.
Here’s what we saw:
- Black-capped Chickadees
- Ravens (pretending to be crows)
- Blue Jays
- House Sparrows
- A White-Breasted Nuthatch
- A female Downy Woodpecker
- Pine Grosbeak
I can’t help thinking that I’m missing a species. You can see pictures of some of them here.
Doug also helps with bird banding in warmer weather and offered to let me know when they head out so that I can join them. I’m ridiculously excited about the idea of helping as it would involve holding live wee birds in my hands! Stephanie, from EALT, also mentioned owl banding (possibly Northern Saw-whet Owl – which are damned cute! – but I didn’t think to write it down at the moment) where you get to hold an owl. I might die of cuteness overload!
I should mention that it was Stephanie who told me about the Christmas Bird Count. She’s been a great source of information and volunteer opportunities.