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Birders ready with binoculars, calculators

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Local groups to participate in 103rd annual North American Christmas Bird Count

Christmas bird counts for the Sea to Sky corridor region:

Squamish: Dec. 14, meet at Brackendale Art Gallery, 7 a.m.

Pemberton: Dec. 15, meet at Pony Expresso, 7:30 a.m.

D’Arcy-Birken: Dec. 17 phone Dan Cumming, 604-452-3453

Whistler: Dec. 21, phone contacts Karl or Mike on Dec. 19, 20

Lillooet: Dec. 29, phone Ken Wright (250-256-4702)

Plans are being formulated for a low-key count at D’Arcy (before Christmas) which will be a new count area, and it completes the first ever transect of observations through the southern Coast Mountains.

Up north, however, a transect of Prince Rupert-Kitimat-Terrace-Smithers has been in operation for several years, although their sites are a fair ways apart. D‚Arcy will be the 65th community in British Columbia to participate in the count.

Bird Studies Canada is the co-ordinator of all Canadian counts and are partners with U.S.-based National Audubon Society. Other count areas are not only in the United States, but also in Central and South America, several Pacific islands and Drake Passage to Antarctica. In all there are about 2,000 count areas, involving over 56,000 volunteer observers to tally up 52 million birds.

Each count area is about 24 kilometres in diameter, that of Whistler extending from Calcheak Campground to Shadow Lake, and Pemberton’s from Shadow Lake to Spetch Creek (or Lillooet Lake to Pemberton Meadows).

The period of counting begins at 8 a.m. and terminates at 5 p.m., followed by a short evening search for owls.

The Whistler count hopes to find at least 40 species (the record is 58) and about 5,000 birds, while the Pemberton/Mt. Currie count has its sights on 60 to 65 species (last year’s 51 was on a poor weather day). In addition the Pemberton gang wants to wrestle the American dipper record count (103 birds) from Lillooet with a full-fledged wade-a-thon along the bird-endowed lower reaches of the Birkenhead River!

The Christmas bird count is the longest-running database on ornithological populations. It is crucial to biologists monitoring environmental impacts and other population studies. Count data, however, is available to anyone through the interactive Bird Studies Web site: www.birdsource.org – a co-operative project of the National Audubon Society and the Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology.

The Pemberton count (its second) will again be co-ordinated by Janet and Hugh Naylor, assisted by the Whistler Naturalists. The D‚Arcy count (first) will be co-ordinated by Dan Cumming; the Whistler count (our 13th) will be co-ordinated by Karl Ricker, assisted by Mike Thompson; the Lillooet count (its third) is organized by the professional ornithologist, Ken Wright; while the Squamish count (the 23rd) is now organized by Linda Dupuis – Jim Wisnia has graciously relinquished his super-human efforts on the Squamish birding scene.

All counts are open to volunteers at all skill levels, and every count needs data from back yard bird feeders if one chooses to help in this way. Please give the co-ordinators a call if you can help in any way.

Whistler: Karl Ricker (604-938-1107) or Mike Thompson (604-932-5010)

Pemberton: Hugh Naylor (604-894-6402)

Squamish: Linda Dupuis (604-898-4770)

D’Arcy: Dan Cumming (604-452-3453)

Lillooet: Ken Wright (250-256-4702)

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