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Christmas Bird Count draws a crowd in Sooke

About 60 come out for annual event sponsored by Rocky Point Bird Observatory
A dark-eyed junco perched on a branch of a budding shrub. A record-setting 1,894 dark-eyed juncos were recorded in this year’s Christmas Bird Count in Sooke. (Alan B. Schroeder –

The Sooke Christmas Bird Count set records this year in keeping tabs on our feathered friends.

“Despite a strong wind warning and the possibility of downpours, the day turned out to be beautiful, with calm winds, some sunshine, and 10 degrees,” said coordinator Robin Byrne.

“We did have some impressive numbers this year with a record-setting 1,894 dark-eyed juncos, the highest number since the start of the Sooke Christmas Bird Count in 1983.”

A flock of 59 eagle-eyed participants turned out for event, which took place on Dec. 27. The total of 19,837 birds was low compared to the 27,000 plus tallied by the 70 people who participated in 2020.

This year’s numbers increased to 1,648 Brandt’s cormorants from the the 138 recorded in 2021, and there were 1,037 American robins counted this year compared to 154 last year.

Byrne noted that only 232 Anna’s hummingbirds were tallied this year compared to 311 in 2021, which may have been due to the cold weather.

Although final results are still being tabulated, 108 species have been counted, three less than in 2021.

“Some birders were out as early as 6 a.m. to look for owls and found some, with one barred owl and six great horned owls counted,” Byrne said. “We’d love to have more Sooke residents participating. The more eyes we have, the more birds will be counted.

Byrne said those who don’t want to venture outside can still participate by counting birds at their feeders.

The count covers a 24-kilometre circle around Sooke divided into eight zones: Otter Point to the east, Witty’s Lagoon to the west, Sooke Potholes to the north, and ocean to the south.

“That’s a lot of area to cover,” Byrne said.

Anyone interested in joining next year’s Christmas count should email

For more information on other volunteer opportunities and the event’s sponsor, Rocky Point Bird Observatory, visit

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