The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was started in 1900 by Frank Chapman, ornithologist and officer of the then new Audubon Society. The count originated as a protest against the Christmas side hunt. It was a “side” hunt because folks would gather, form groups and take sides to see which group could shoot the widest variety of wildlife, furred or feathered, at Christmas.
Concurrently, observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations and the CBC provided an alternative activity which reduced the annual slaughter. Fortunately, the signing of the Lacey Act in 1900 and the Migratory Bird Treaty in 1918 ended the “side” hunt.
Currently, habitat loss and various human activities, greatly contribute to declining bird numbers. Birds enrich our lives and are important to the nature of things; being voracious feeders, particularly during the nesting season, they help control insects, weed seeds and rodents, many of which are pests in agricultural crops. Yes, sometimes they eat a bit of fruit too, but this is mitigated by their beneficial habits and many species do not touch fruit.
If you are interested in birds, join the group on December 29 to spot and count the birds which winter in the Lower Similkameen. Inexperienced people will be paired with experienced birders; this is an excellent opportunity to learn to better identify birds, get outside on a winter day and enjoy the beautiful Similkameen while contributing important information to the study of bird populations.
The information gathered is documented and assists in tracking the status of birds across the continent and around the world.
Upon completion the group gathers to enjoy a pot luck supper, share interesting happenings and report the count.
To find out were to meet, call Lee McFadyen at: 250- 499-5404
For more information on Bird Studies Canada visit: www.bsc-eoc.org/