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Count Birds Instead of Gifts This Holiday Season

Golden eagle, species at risk © Tom Koerner USFWS CC BY 2.0

Ontario, December 13, 2022 – Bird lovers of all ages and skill levels are invited to celebrate the 123rd anniversary of the Christmas Bird Count by joining one of the many counts happening across Ontario this holiday season. It’s a great way to explore nature while helping collect important data on our feathered friends. Consider making the Christmas Bird Count a part of your family holiday tradition this year.

The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900, and today it is North America’s longest-running wildlife census. Many local counts are organized by birding and nature clubs, and everyone is welcome to attend free of charge.

This year’s Christmas Bird Count will run from December 14, 2022 to January 5, 2023. Ontario Nature member groups are organizing at least 48 counts in the province this season. Visit the Ontario Nature website (ontarionature.org/cbc) to find a Nature Network count near you. For a comprehensive list of counts happening across Canada, visit the Birds Canada website (bsc-eoc.org/cbc).

Always fun, even when the weather is chilly, every volunteer who braves the elements to take part in a count contributes to the study and conservation of birds. Scientists use the data collected to monitor the health and status of resident and migratory birds over time, and to develop conservation strategies for species in decline and their habitats. The Christmas Bird Count also teaches community scientists about the myriad bird species that live in and migrate through their communities.

“The Christmas Bird Count is a great way for bird lovers of all ages to help Ontario’s birds. Novices work alongside experts to collect important data that help guide work on behalf of all birds across the province. And who knows… maybe you’ll see a rare bird,” says Anne Bell, Ontario Nature’s Director of Conservation and Education.

Last year, the ongoing pandemic and classic winter weather did little to dampen Canadian bird lovers’ enthusiasm for the Christmas Bird Count. Fifteen thousand community scientists participated in more than 475 counts across the country. In Ontario, many of those counts were hosted by Ontario Nature member groups.

Here are some highlights from last year’s Ontario counts:

  • Count participants in Hamilton tallied record numbers for 16 species, including northern shoveler ducks, red-breasted mergansers, bald eagles and sandhill cranes.
  • A rare golden eagle and 376 cedar waxwings were recorded during the Prince Edward Point count.
  • Notable sightings in Bruce Peninsula National Park included a winter wren, a Lapland longspur and a record 13 bald eagles.
  • The first ever belted kingfisher was seen during the North Bay count.
  • Count participants tallied a record 334 wild turkeys and 44 white-throated sparrows in Ottawa-Gatineau.
  • Notable sightings in Bradford included the northern shrike, the snowy owl and the rough-legged hawk.
  • A record 20 tundra swans were recorded in Woodstock.
  • Unusual sightings in Peterborough included six trumpeter swans and a white-winged scoter.
  • Highlights from Orillia included record numbers of trumpeter swans, red-necked grebes and red-bellied woodpeckers, and the first ever ruby-crowned kinglet.

What avian rarities and trends will be uncovered this year? Join a Christmas Bird Count to find out.

For more information, please contact:

John Hassell, Director of Communications and Engagement, Ontario Nature: 416-786-2171; johnh@ontarionature.org.

Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. It connects thousands of individuals and communities with nature through more than 155 conservation groups, and 30,000 members and supporters across the province.