Flock comes out to count birds

The American three-toed woodpecker was among the rarer bird species seen during the Christmas Bird Count that took place on Sunday around Central Alberta.

Judy Boyd

Judy Boyd

The American three-toed woodpecker was among the rarer bird species seen during the Christmas Bird Count that took place on Sunday around Central Alberta.

The black and white bird was seen at River Bend on Sunday by Judy Boyd, who compiles the numbers. She said another person saw a Northern Goshawk, which is a bird of prey with a flecked chest, near Penhold, and another volunteer bird counter caught sight of a snowy owl, west of Bowden.

Many people take part in the count held around Christmas time and in May each year, everyone from birders dressed to meet the minus 13 C temperatures on Sunday to those who prefer to watch their feeders from their kitchen or living room windows.

The bird count is done throughout North America and started in the 1900s in New York.

“It was mainly to get people to stop shooting the birds,” Boyd explained. “It’s great for seeing trends in birds, that is the most important thing. The second most important thing is that it is fun. People enjoy it. It is a way of socializing.”

It’s been happening since the mid-1980s in Central Alberta and covers an area from Ponoka to Olds and from almost to Rocky to almost to Stettler. In all there are 27 circles where people can count that are around 15 kms in diameter that make up the Central Alberta bird count area.

Boyd started her day at River Bend with her husband and then the two took the young naturalists club out by the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. At one point the group saw a flock of more than 400 Bohemian Waxwings fly by overhead, which was a particularly exciting moment for the young people. The bird is known for its pointed crest and is greyer than the Cedar Waxwing, with bright yellow tips on its tail feathers.

Those who took part in the count have until December 29 to get their tally sheets in by dropping them off at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, mailing them to the Red Deer River Naturalists at Box 785, Red Deer, Alberta, at T4N 5H2 or by emailing Judy Boyd at judy.boyd@shaw.ca. The bird count is sponsored by the Red Deer River Naturalists and the Kerry Wood Nature Centre.

Boyd hopes to have the numbers tallied by early January and they will be published in the Red Deer River Naturalists newsletter and posted on the group’s website at www.rdrn.fanweb.ca.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com