A female Pine Grosbeak seen outside the 100 Mile House Visitor’s Centre. Godin says some winters their numbers are quite low, making them hard to find, but they are experiencing a bit of a population explosion this year. Max Winkelman photo.

Annual bird count to be held on Dec. 30

Wildfires probably good for some birds, bad for others

The annual bird count will be on Dec. 30, according to Tom Godin, who says it’s the third year they’ve officially registered it online.

“You sorta pick a centre spot which for us is Canim Hendrix Rd. and Highway 97. Then you go seven miles anywhere in a circle so that takes in the 108, out to Skaday Bridge [and] almost to the halfway house. So, it’s kind of a good catch area.”

People can do counts from home looking at their bird feeder and send the information to him, says Godin.

“I’m in the phone book [at] 250-395-1351 or email at birding@bcinternet.net.”

There are two parts to it, count week which is species only and starts three days earlier, and count day, which includes the numbers, says Godin.

The core group will be counting again this year but anyone can participate, says Godin.

“Some days have been like -25 and we’re still out there beating the bushes.”

The impact of the weather can be surprising sometimes, says Godin. Some years when it’s been really cold you wouldn’t expect any ducks but the colder weather can make the birds stay in one place, he says, adding that one year at an unofficial count they even ran into a great blue heron at the marsh.

“I don’t know what its future was but there was like nowhere to fish [and] they’re fishing birds.”

While one year of counting doesn’t tell stories but 10 years of counting might tell you something about birds, he says.

Godin says that while he’s just guessing, he’s not expecting the counts to be affected much by the wildfires.

“Certain birds don’t leave their territories. The wildfires would have wiped out certain chickadees and gray jays who don’t know to leave their territory. A lot of birds that are in town right now are transient. The bohemian rhapsodies are living on fruit. They nested in Northern B.C. so they come to us now, eat all of our fruit and move to the next town that has some fruit hanging on trees.”

The birds that would have been affected are in the places where the fires burned, says Godin, so unless you go right in there, it wouldn’t impact the count.

“Woodpeckers are going to love it. They love any time where there’s a lot of dead trees. One of the best time for woodpecker counting here was when we had the pine beetle dying off. There was dead pines everywhere. There was all kinds of woodpeckers everywhere, you know, so certain conditions are good for certain birds and bad for other ones.”

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