Wednesday 16 November 2016

It's That Time of the Year Again...

The holidays are just around the corner, and that means family, food and, of course, birds. In a few weeks, thousands of birders and nature enthusiasts will be taking part in one of the oldest birding traditions in the world....the Christmas Bird Count (or CBC for short). The event was founded in 1900, and the idea was that instead of shooting the birds for sport on December 25th like many people did, they would observe and count them instead. 117 years later we are still doing it. Imagine...117 years. In that time frame the RMS Titanic sunk, WWI and WWII raged in Europe, Point Pelee opened it's gates, the Great Depression destroyed countries all over the world in the thirties, Canada has had 17 different Prime Ministers, and our friends down south have had 20 presidents. For over a century people have carried on the tradition, and it is up to us and future generations to continue.

Anyway, there are dozens of counts around southern Ontario. Here's a few from my area:

Bright Blue: London (my home count)  Date: December 17, 2016
Gray: Stratford  Date: TBA
White: West Elgin   Date: TBA
Maroon: Strathroy  Date: Possibly not running this season
Teal: St. Thomas  Date: TBA
Purple: Kettle Point  Date: December 17, 2016
Pink: Skunk's Misery (Newbury)  Date: TBA, however last year it was in early January.
Blue: Wallaceburg  Date: December 27 or 28, 2016
Lime Green: St. Clair NWA  Date: TBA
Red: Blenheim incl. Rondeau  Date: December 18, 2016

Essex County and area also hosts a few counts:

Yellow: Point Pelee  Date: TBA
Gold: Cedar Creek  Date: December 17, 2016
Black: Holiday Beach  Date: December 27, 2016
Green: North Shore  Date: TBA
Dark Blue: Lake Erie Islands  Date: TBA

You may have noticed quite a few dates are 'To Be Announced'. Since it is only early November, many coordinators may not have uploaded the dates to the site I used. You can click here to see when the 'TBA' counts are or to find a Canadian CBC circle in your area.

Another bird count around Christmas is the Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids). This event was founded in 2007, so it isn't quite as old as the regular CBC. There are three CBC4Kids in SW Ontario:

Bright Blue: London  Date: December 3, 2016
Red: Elgin  Date: TBA
Grey: Port Rowan  Date: December 3, 2016

I'll be volunteering as a group leader this year at the 3rd annual London CBC4Kids count (more info can be found here ), and if you are interested in leading a group as well, you can inquire with the count organizer. Find a CBC4Kids near you by clicking here.

By joining a CBC, you are helping researchers know where birds are and if they are increasing or declining in that area. While most counters will take to the road to find birds, you can help by just counting birds at your feeder and reporting your finds to your local coordinator. I hope to see you out there!

London is the 'Cardinal Capital of Canada'


  1. Great information! Thanks for sharing. I've never done a CBC, but maybe this year I will.

    1. I haven't done a real CBC either, however I hope to this year! Which CBC circle are you thinking of doing?

  2. Blenheim/Rondeau is always the first Sunday of the count period; December 18 this year. Wallaceburg is usually around December 27/28, but has not been set yet. Strathroy is not running as far as I know.
    Have fun whichever one you do!

  3. Thanks Blake! I got my information based on last year's CBC map. It's a shame that Strathroy may not be running this year as they usually have some pretty good birds with the sewage lagoons. I'm going to try to do two CBC circles this year, and the Rondeau/Blenheim circle looks promising. Maybe I'll see you out there!