Count week helps overall picture
A snow squall hampered visibility and kept the birds in their nests during the 12 th annual Whistler Christmas Bird Count Day on Dec. 18, but sunny skies for the remainder of Count Week helped the bird watchers improve their overall showing.
On Count Day, groups walking around town spotted 46 different species of birds. Count Week, which ran from Dec. 15 to 21, added another 15 species to the list, which brought the total number of birds sighted to 61, or to 70 per cent of the 87 different species sighted around Whistler over previous counts.
Some of the birds that turned up during count week include a bald eagle, golden eagle, White-tailed Ptarmigan, Blue Grouse, American Coot, Thayers Gull, Western Gull, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Clarks Nutcracker, Gray Jay, American Crow, Bohemian Waxwing, Snow Bunting, Purple Finch, and Common Redpoll.
The rare sightings included the Sharpshinned Hawk, a first for Whistler, and a Snow Bunting. The Blue Grouse and Redheaded Duck are also rare for this area, at this time of year.
While some birds didnt show, a total of six new birds were added to the winter list for future years.
More than 50,000 birders across North America participate in Christmas bird count activities, which was started by the Royal Audubon Society to track bird species and numbers across North America. The data is used to determine which, if any, species are in decline and to track the ranges of species.
Altogether the Whistler Bird Count volunteers counted 4,530 birds, the second highest total in the history of the count.
On count day in Pemberton, volunteers spotted 1,449 birds belonging to 50 species, and five more were added during count week.
More than 30 people took part in the count, but heavy snow likely drove off a lot of the ground nesting birds in the area.
The Lillooet bird count recorded 1,650 birds, representing 56 species. They also set a North American record for American Dippers and spotted a rare Long-tailed Duck.
Next year, theres a possibility of a DArcy count, which Whistler bird count organizer Karl Ricker says will give naturalists a better idea of what species can be found in the Sea to Sky Corridor.