100 Mile House’s annual Christmas Bird Count is set to return this year.
Avid birder Paul Foth, who currently lives in Creston but plans to move to 100 Mile in the new year, has stepped up as the area’s new bird count coordinator. He plans to bring back the count this year on Thursday, Dec 17, from sunrise to sunset. Although there would typically be a get-together to tally numbers afterwards, that won’t happen this year due to COVID-19.
“Someone needed to do it and I love the 100 Mile House area,” Foth said, noting he enjoys birdwatching up here and does so whenever he gets the chance. “It’s one of my favourite places to bird. I’m always coming up there for Christmas, so I thought it was a good combination.”
Foth, who has been doing Christmas bird counts since 2015, said the count will happen in a circle 24 kilometres around 100 Mile House, with different teams assigned to different parts of the circle.
READ MORE: Bird Count tally is in
The birders will then do their best to get an accurate count of bird populations while having fun, Foth said. He said going out in small groups and trying to count as many birds as possible in a designated area makes his December birding even more exciting.
His favourite part is finding the birds themselves, as the area is home to some beautiful winter birds. These include the common redpolls, pine grosbeaks, great grey owls, bohemian waxwings and occasionally a surprise rare species of bird not usually seen in the area.
Based on old count data, Foth said there’s an average of 25 species usually observed this time of year including permanent residents like black-capped mountain chickadees and gray jays while, depending on weather and luck, birders may find finches, red crossbills and white crossbills, ravens and crows.
Depending on standing water, they may even see ducks and kingfishers.
“100 Mile has great bird habitat, it’s a bit more sparse in winter but it’s really beautiful and, the birds are a big highlight of winters up there,” said Foth. “The count is a valuable way to track the bird population and get to know the different corners of the Cariboo. My wife grew up there and I didn’t but I’m showing her different places around 100 Mile now because birding has taken me to all these different pockets.”
While he’s done plenty of birding in the past, this is the first time Foth has taken on the role of coordinator for the count in the 100 Mile area.
Beyond finding and counting the birds themselves, Foth said he’s most looking forward to connecting with his fellow birders in the community. So far he has four people signed up to help, but he always welcomes more and hopes to get as many people as possible involved in the count, or at least enough to cover five different zones.
“The Christmas Bird Count has been going on since the 19th century, this would be the 121st year. Having a Christmas Bird Count gives some stable data on wintering bird populations,” Foth explained.
“Between Christmas Bird Counts and breeding bird surveys in the summer, people are able to track major bird population movements, increases and declines.”
Those who wish to do small counts on their bird feeders or close to home are welcome to do so as well as long as they reach out to him and coordinate their efforts.
To sign up birders can give him a call via 604-799-2215 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.