|Annual Bird Count|
An Annual Bird Count is a great activity for individuals, families or groups of any size. Explore your neighborhood, or a designated natural area, on any given day and take an inventory of all the bird species you can sight.
Each year the new data is compared with the past, and information comes to light about the prevalence and patterns of the bird wildlife in your area. Interesting, informative and a contribution to local wildlife knowledge.
The National Audobon Society of the US, and Bird Studies Canada collect information from over 2400 individual bird counts in North America. These counts are held between Dec. 14 - Jan. 5th. You can visit their websites for more information if you want to join in with an organized count in your area. Or you can just create your own count any time of year (or more often) as a way of getting outdoors and learning more about the local wildlife.
As we learn more about our local wildlife, we make more informed choices about lifestyle decisions which impact wildlife. Consider the benefits of participating in a bird count:
|- Learn about the
variety of bird species in your neighborhood.
- Observe and measure the changes in species population.
- Sharpen your listening and observation skills.
- Enjoy a family activity - all ages can participate in a bird count.
- Applies to any environment - urban, suburban or rural.
- Helps acknowledge the importance of local wildlife and the natural world.
|Notebook - Each person should have his or her own notebook to keep a record of sightings,
sketches and anecdotes. At the end of the day, everyone tallies their sightings
and the total is recorded in each persons' book, along with the number of
people participating. You'll re-use this notebook with every bird count, and
before long it will become a "memory book" to enjoy throughout the
- It works best if each person has their own pair. Look for an inexpensive
pair of binoculars with a 7 or 8x magnification. Zoom lenses are not necessary
- although they magnify the image, they also narrow the field of view.
Smaller binoculars are easier to pack, less expensive and good enough
for all but the more serious birders.
- A small set of the basic colors will do, along with a small pocket pencil
sharpener. They are useful for making sketches in your notebook. Not all species
are easy to identify in the field, and the sketch is consulted later on when
making the tally of the day. The sketches also make your journal look good.
Field Guide - Just as essential as the binoculars. Get a local Field Guide to Birds, not Birds of the World. Be sure to get a paperback edition as it's easy to pocket, and will be put to hard use in the field. Good photos or detailed color drawings are more useful than a lot of technical information.
Camera - Optional. If you want a 'game trophy' of your best sighting, bring one along. Be sure it has a good zoom lens.
Listening Aids - Serious birders often use expensive little hearing aids to help locate birds in the wild. They are effective, but certainly not essential. Developing natural listening skills is satisfying, helps to focus concentration and is a good basic skill to hone for enjoying and discovering more in nature.
Water and Snacks - Bringing a supply of drinking water is a must. If children are along, you'll need a supply of snacks. . No need to cut short a good time because someone has the munchies! Natural snacks like nuts and seeds are a fitting treat for outdoor activities.
|Tips for a successfull bird count|
|Plan the route ahead of time
Take the time to plan a good route. It should be long enough for a hike of several hours, and lead through a variety of terrain and habitat. Keep in mind the age and fitness levels of your group members. Try to do the same or similar route each year to get a good record of the status of your local bird population. Make a record of the route and enter it in your journal.
Be consistent with the time spent for each count
Count the number of birds within each species observed
Observe the seasonal changes in local bird populations
size can be large or small
Quiet brings results
Enjoying the shared experience is the priority, not the birds
Let us know how your Annual Bird Count works out!
Have any tips or suggestions to share?