Christmas Bird Count returns to BC’s Lower Mainland | PKBNEWS

Take seven steps, stop, look, listen, repeat. This is one of the most important rules in birding, according to Michael Klotz.

He and a group of local birders got together Thursday to help determine the trends of our feathered friends in the Lower Mainland. The first Christmas bird count since 2019 has inspired enthusiasts to keep a count of what they have seen.

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The annual event — largely suspended during the pandemic — dates back more than a century and is now North America’s longest-running citizen science project with participants in more than 2,000 locations across the Western Hemisphere.

“That circle itself started in 1964 here in Surrey. They started this count. The real Christmas bird counting started in 1900,” Klotz said.

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The event started out as an annual hunt, but has since evolved into a less deadly way to track bird populations.

Volunteers spread out and try to get a snapshot of where the birds are and record each confirmed sighting.

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The data is then submitted online to the Audubon Society and Birds Canada and widely used to inform biologists, environmental planners and naturalists around the world. It allows them to compare trends in bird populations from year to year.

“Is it really important that we understand what our numbers look like? Are we increasing, are we decreasing? Are there different species? said Klotz.

The data also helps the Nature Conservancy of Canada determine where to focus its conservation efforts.

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Klotz says it takes a real passion and knowledge of birds, but also a good ear.

“Your bird watching is 50% listening to the birds to see what they look like. Identification is a bit easier if you know what you’re listening to and usually hear them before you see them.

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