Christmas bird count on the Saanich Peninsula Sunday

On one day a year, birders get together and count all the birds they can within a 15 mile radius.

Birder Christian McCarty looks to see what he can find at a previous Christmas Bird Count.

The annual Christmas bird counts are back. On one day a year, birders get together and count all the birds they can within a 15 mile radius.

“So we count in the same area year after year to see what is happening with bird populations,” said Ann Nightingale, co-ordinator of the Victoria bird count and participant in the Sidney bird count.

She said the count is to look at what birds are increasing in number and what birds are decreasing. All of that data then goes into a centralized database that is kept by the National Audubon Society and Bird Safe Canada.

“By doing this consistently year after year, we get a good sense of patterns that are happening with the birds,” said Nightingale.

In its 117th year in Canada, the bird count has been going on for around 10 years on the Peninsula. For Nightingale, who has been doing this for the last 16 years, she said they are in fact seeing some changes in bird trends.

She said the numbers of Band-Tailed pigeons are decreasing, whereas a new invasive pigeon called a Eurasian Collared dove is increasing.

“We do occasionally find some rare birds on our Christmas count day. One of the ones that we’ve seen for two years in the Sidney count has been something called a Fork-Tailed storm petrel, which normally you would only see out at sea, quite far out, but for two years in a row, one has been found in the Saanich Inlet.”

Last year they saw 80 people participate in the Saanich Peninsula count and 241 in Victoria — which was the third largest group of counters in North America last year.

“So birding is very popular in Victoria and a lot of the people that live in other parts of town come out to the Peninsula to help out with the count.”

Nightingale, who lives in Saanichton, said they’re seeing huge declines in overall bird numbers and that some are doing better than others.

“So things like the Eurasian Collared dove, which was accidentally released in the Bahamas in the 1970s, has now made its way all the way north and west and is in our area and growing in numbers,” she said.

The Sea Lark however is a different story. One of what Nightingale calls the Saanich Peninsula’s claim to fame, is plummeting in numbers.

The decline in birds, she said, relates to various situations depending on specific areas. Some include collisions with man-made structures, interactions with house pets, population changes in the area and more.

“For birds it mostly comes down to ability to find food.”

The Christmas bird count will take place on the Peninsula Dec. 18. Birders will be counting on the Peninsula from Wallace Drive north.

Interested participants are to meet at the Panorama Recreation Centre parking lot at 8 a.m. There is no fee to sign up.

Just Posted

Victoria shuttle service aims to use cruise ship waste as fuel

Pacific Northwest Transportation Services wants to have a zero emission fleet by 2026

Search underway as Our Place Society CEO Don Evans resigns

‘It’s time for me to takea break to recharge my batteries’

Beacon Avenue pot shop dispute heading to court

The two sides are scheduled to meet in early January 2020 in a Victoria courtroom

Judge’s decision set for January in dangerous driving trial for crash that left Saanich girl unresponsive

Tenessa Nikirk is charged with one count of dangerous driving after Leila Bui was struck in 2017

Donations down, Peninsula Santa’s Helpers worry heading into final week of toy drive

Coin, toy drive supports 250 children registered with the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

The Russell Troupe finds a comfort zone in small Island community

Family gathering with two parents and five kids a common scene around Chemainus

Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to rodents and snakes

92 cases of salmonella across six provinces, including B.C.

Meng Wanzhou wins right to more documents involving arrest at Vancouver airport

Defence lawyers allege the Huawei executive was unlawfully detained, searched and interrogated

Most Read