Black Capped Chickadee. File photo

Elk Valley birders to take part in global Christmas bird count

Group to meet in Fernie on December 18 to collect data from Hosmer to Morrissey

This Christmas, Elk Valley residents can participate in one of the longest running wildlife censuses in the world.

For the 119th year, the National Audubon Society is launching its annual Christmas Bird Count.

Between December 14 and January 5, tens of thousands of bird-loving volunteers will participate in counts across the Western Hemisphere.

Data collected by participants contributes to one of just two existing pools of information advising conservation biologists on what action is necessary to protect birds and the places they need to survive.

Word has reached as far as Fernie, where a group will gather on December 18 to participate in the bird count.

In the Elk Valley, specifically close to Fernie, lies a large area of bird habitat waiting to be documented. Last year, participants came from as far as the Crowsnest Pass, Cranbrook, Kimberley and Montana, U.S.

The local area of coverage stretches from Hosmer, through Fernie to Morrissey.

Mike Bentley will be leading the group, which will send volunteers out to various locations in Fernie and surrounding areas to count what they can see. The local bird count will be sponsored by the Fernie Nature Club.

“I think it’s fun to take people out birding if they like to go,” said Bentley.

“What it does is it provides a long term backdrop to what is around … you get an idea of frequency and what’s around at this time of year,” said Bentley.

Communities around the Kootenays will be collecting data, which will then be compiled and uploaded online.

Asked if they have noticed a trend over the years, Bentley said their count numbers are very dependent on the weather, so it’s hard to tell. There are many factors involved in whether or not birds will be out on the day of the count.

The event is set to start at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 18, and scheduled to finish at approximately 5 p.m. Volunteers are asked to meet at 962 10th Avenue. The event is free of charge.

For more information, text or call Bentley at 250-430-7766.

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