Fewer species and bird counted this year

Area birders and bird feeder watchers participate in formal Christmas Bird Count

Field observers Lydia de Groot

Thirteen South Cariboo residents – some active field observers and others watching their home bird feeder – participated in a bird count in 100 Mile House, the Walker Valley, Imperial Ranchettes, Buffalo Creek, Horse Lake area and 100 Mile landfill on Jan. 5.

Observers included Lydia de Groot, Bob Campbell, Tom Godin, Celeste Faessler, Peter Crawshay, Sue Stephens, Cheryl Cunningham, Karen Johnson, Barrie Bolton, and Chris, Suzanne, Anna and Maria Betuzzi.

This is the second year the 100 Mile Christmas Bird Count (CBC) has been able to help with a formal count. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a number of local birders did count bird and species numbers, but not in a formal way.

The number of species was down from last year, but the 2011 numbers were high due to the mild winter and open water.

For the 2011 count, there were 31 species of birds and nearly 900 individual birds of all species counted.

The 2012 count saw 22 species and around 400 individual birds recorded.

A few notable numbers included:

• House Sparrows – 2011, 54; and in 2012, 8.

• Common Redpolls – 2011, 59; and in 2012, 237.

• Red Breasted Nuthatch – 2011, 27; and in 2012, 18.

• Grey Crown Rosy Finch – 2011, 37; and in 2012, 0.

So, the numbers of a species do vary, as do the species themselves.

Only two Mallard ducks were spotted this year, and no swans or Goldeneye ducks – undoubtedly due to the lack of open water.

The lack of sparrows in this count was interesting because they have been present in quite large numbers in town during recent years.

Many people will have seen them hanging around the Safeway, Save-On-Foods and other shops. This year, there were only eight and all were at Save-On-Foods.

Disease, predation and loss of habitat are all possible reasons for the decline.

Studies like the CBC help alert us to changes in bird populations and, in turn, other factors, such as climate change, loss of habitat, and other man-made factors.

One thing is certain – birding is a fun, interesting activity, which brings enjoyment and knowledge to many people.

We are blessed to live in a wonderful area with many fascinating natural features. As a group, we certainly want to encourage people to learn more, and perhaps join in.

Those wanting more information can contact me at barrie.bolton@gmail.com.

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