by Richard Staniforth
The Winnipeg Christmas Bird Count was held on December 20th. This is an annual event when nature enthusiasts contribute a day of their time to survey and count all of the birds within a 15 mile diameter circle centred on downtown Winnipeg.
Christmas Bird Counts, known as CBCs, are held all over Canada, North America, and in fact, in most countries of the world. They started in the year 1900 as a healthier alternative to the Annual Boxing Day Bird Shoot in which folks used to compete by shooting as many different kinds of birds as they could on that single day!
Now CBCs are held between December 14th and January 5th, with each community deciding on a particular date in a way that dedicated enthusiasts may attend different counts in different places on different days. And we don’t shoot anything, anymore, except perhaps with cameras!
This year Lorne and Joan Heshka and I were responsible for the Glenelm area, and further afield. You may have caught sight of us, bundled up and with binoculars dangling around our necks, peering into neighbourhood backyards for signs of bird activity – no we are not peeping-Toms! My wife, Diana, supplied us with nutritious snacks, lunch and warm drinks during the day which boosted our enthusiasm.
What did we see? Well nothing that we did not expect, no unusual or rare species this year: Hairy woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Black-capped Chickadees, House Sparrows, Eurasian Starlings, Rock Pigeons, American Crows, Common Ravens and Blue Jays.
At the end of the day, about 30 of us Winnipeg participants gathered at the Bronx Community Centre to collate the numbers and kinds of birds seen in our Winnipeg area with Manitoba’s CBC co-ordinator, Rudolf Koes. A fun evening, complete with a pot-luck supper and catch-up with fellow naturalists who we may not have shared experiences and laughter with since December, 2016. Rudolf collates all of the data for Manitoba, checks unusual sightings and submits it to the Audubon Society for analysis of trends in bird populations around the world.
Perhaps you would like to participate in the Christmas Bird Count next year, or even watch a backyard feeder and record its visiting birds? You would add to the 14,000 Canadians who enjoy this event every year. If so, please feel free to contact me at richard_staniforth @yahoo.ca.
(In the photo above, taken by Richard Staniforth: “A Black-capped Chickadee which is Glenelm’s commonest bird, at least, it is for this time of the year.”)