A new generation of young birders takes flight!
2011 Christmas Bird Count for Kids: A new generation of young birders takes flight!
By Karen Barry, Bird Studies Canada
Flocks of young birders are participating in Christmas Bird Count for Kids events (CBC4Kids) across the country! This year, Bird Studies Canada organized and hosted two events, one in Port Rowan Ontario on December 3 and another in Vancouver on December 4 (with the YNC!), in addition to supporting several CBC4Kids in other locations. A CBC4Kids event was also held in Kamloops on December 18th, hosted by the local Young Naturalists' Club.
The idea for CBC4Kids originated in the Sonoma Valley, California in 2007 by Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie (http://www.sonomabirding.com/cbc4kids_history.html). They found that traditional Christmas Bird Counts were geared mainly towards adults, and young children and families were often not included in this important Citizen Science effort. So they created the CBC 4 Kids and families - a stand alone half-day event for the younger set (6-15 years old) highlighting the important basics of this traditional count. CBC4Kids has proven to be an exciting way to engage youth and their families in a traditional bird-watching event, promoting nature appreciation and skills for monitoring birds, while contributing to citizen-science focused on birds.
The first Vancouver CBC4Kids event took place in Stanley Park, fittingly located within the English Bay-Burrard Inlet Important Bird Area. The event was co-hosted by the Stanley Park Ecology Society and the Young Naturalists Club of BC. After a brief introduction about the history of Christmas Bird Counts, we reviewed ways to identify birds and practiced using binoculars indoors. Then our intrepid birding teams headed outside to do a count.
Nine enthusiastic young birders participated with their parents to make up 3 teams. The morning dawned crisp and dry and a beautiful sunny day followed. Teams birded for a little over 2 hours in different region of Stanley Park covering a mixture of habitat types. Our volunteer team leaders, Russell Cannings, George Clulow, Julian Hudson and Anne Murray, provided fun and expert guidance for the children and their accompanying parents. Following the bird walk, we met again to tally up our counts as a group. The children really enjoyed comparing sightings from each team. The grand total for the day was 1874 birds and 53 species, and highlights included 4 Anna’s hummingbirds, 150 Barrow’s Goldeneyes, 5 Black Oystercatchers, 12 Red Crossbills and 307 Surf Scoters!
This is a true Citizen Science effort and the count data has been entered in eBird (www.ebird.ca) to be available for future research and conservation projects, and for other birders to know what has been sighted in the area. The data has also been submitted to the Stanly Park Ecology Society to be included in their bird monitoring database.
Many thanks to the volunteer leaders, partners and participants for making the first CBC4Kids in Vancouver a great success and a fun, bird-filled day. We are already planning next year’s event and hope to see more families out in December 2012.