Naturespeak 

Christmas bird counts for the Sea to Sky corridor

By Karl Ricker

Sponsored by the Whistler Naturalists Society, the 17 th Annual Christmas Bird Count for Whistler will take place on Dec. 14 th . Volunteers are needed to help with the task.

This annual event was initiated by Max Götz and a group of friends in 1990 as a local contribution to the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, inaugurated in eastern North America in 1899. There are now 80 counts elsewhere in British Columbia. The count is conducted in a circle 24 km in diameter, the focal point being the Village Gate at Whistler, extending north to Shadow Lake and south to the Cal-Cheak Campground. Coverage of all the area is not possible for the alpine areas east and west of Whistler because of access limitations and lack of counters. However, there are field parties on Whistler and Blackcomb and six or seven other parties canvassing the valley floor where most of the birds are to be found.

The 16 previous counts at Whistler have averaged 45 species and 2,790 individuals counted, with a high of 62 species in 1999 and 6,611 birds tallied in 2003.

For 2006, however, the totals of each will be compromised by closure of the landfill and its loss of several species of gulls to tally. Optimistically we hope to find 40 species and about 2,000 individual birds. With enough observers in each of the eight field parties we can probably meet this objective. Big assists in reaching this goal are additional observations of backyard bird feeders. If you have a feeder, please fill it a few days before Dec. 14 th , and then tally the birds seen on count day, as your contribution to the census.

So, if you can volunteer your feet, eyes, ears and wisdom and join a field party, or spend a few minutes each hour watching a feeder, please call Karl Ricker (604-938-1107) or Michael Thompson (604-932-5010) early next week. All volunteers will be invited to a festive countdown party at the end of the day at Karl’s house.

Other counts in the corridor, with wind-up end-of-the-day festivities, are scheduled as follows:

• Pemberton-Mt Currie: Hugh Naylor (604-894-6402), December 15 th , meet at Pony Expresso Restaurant at 8 a.m.

• Squamish: Marcia Danielson (604-898-9420), Dec. 17 th , meet at Tim Horton’s at 7:15 a.m.

• D’Arcy-Devine:          Dan Cumming (604-452-3453), Dec. 19 th

• Lillooet: Dr. Ian Routley (250-256-4062). Dec. 26.

Whistlerites are invited to help with these counts, and for the readers living in all areas, you are urged to participate. Christmas Bird Counts are a pleasant social affair as well as a fun-filled competitive event. Will Squamish always have the highest count, or will Pemberton eventually surpass them? And will D’Arcy again have more species than Whistler? Results will be reported early in the new year.

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