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Count Birds, Not Gifts, This Holiday Season!

Ontario Nature member groups are hosting counts (ontarionature.org/cbc) across Ontario

Evening grosbeak © Bill McDonald

Ontario, December 6, 2019 – Bird lovers of all ages and skill levels are invited to celebrate the Christmas Bird Count’s 120th anniversary 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, 2019 to January 5, 2020. Ontario Nature member groups are organizing nearly 80 counts in the province this season. Visit the Ontario Nature website (ontarionature.org/cbc) to find a count near you. For a comprehensive list of counts happening in Canada, visit the Birds Canada website (bsc-eoc.org/volunteer/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 citizen 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 that no one has recorded before,” says Emma Horrigan, Ontario Nature’s Conservation Projects and Education Manager.

Last year, more than 14,000 Canadians recorded over 2 million individual birds from 250 species across the country. In Ontario, more than 4,500 citizen scientists joined 120 counts throughout the province. Two-thirds of those counts were hosted by Ontario Nature member groups.

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

  • American crows, Canada geese and European starlings were the most abundant species in the province
  • A western kingbird, seen during the Long Point count, was a first for an Ontario Christmas Bird Count
  • Waterfowl highlights in Hamilton included Barrow’s goldeneyes, king eiders, horned grebes and red-necked grebes
  • The first ever barred owl and a record 16 mute swans were recorded during the Wiarton count
  • Highlights from Owen Sound included 30 bohemian waxwings, 3 great blue herons and a northern goshawk
  • A record 377 herring gulls were recorded in Vankleek Hill
  • Unusual sightings in Essex County included 23 sandhill cranes and an orange-crowned warbler
  • Count participants tallied a record 561 white-breasted nuthatches and 10 buffleheads in Ottawa-Gatineau
  • Rare sightings in Thunder Bay included a Townsend’s solitaire and a long-eared owl

What avian rarities and trends will be uncovered this year? Join a Christmas Bird Count to find out. If you’re still not convinced that participating in a count is for you, many are followed by a pot-luck meal.

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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 close to 150 conservation groups, and 30,000 members and supporters across the province. For more information, visit ontarionature.org.