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Join the Christmas Bird Count, a 123-Year-Old Citizen Science Project

Image: Wikimedia Commons December 2, 2023 at 6:40 am

The Buffalo Lake Nature Club is looking for bird lovers to participate in this year's Christmas Bird Count.

According to Birds Canada, the annual bird count is North America's longest-running "citizen science project", and it comprises "one of the world's largest sets of wildlife survey data."

As their website notes, "The results are used by conservation biologists, environmental planners, and naturalists to assess the population trends and distribution of birds."

The project began in 1900. Our own Buffalo Lake Nature Club has participated in the Christmas Bird Count since the 1970s, and they count more than just birds.

"We count every wild creature including foxes, coyotes, mule and white-tailed deer, moose, muskrats, etc.," says Claudia Lipski, President of the Buffalo Lake Nature Club. "It's always interesting to see which creatures are out and about on wintry days."

The club covers three Audubon designated circles (see map below) that are 24km in diameter. These areas are officially known as ABST (Stettler), ABBU (Buffalo Lake), and ABRR (Red Deer River).

The counts are conducted on Sundays, with participants choosing the time(s) that work best for them. Counts can be conducted by car or at home.

"Two to four people per vehicle works well so the driver can focus on driving slowly while the others scan for birds," says Lipski. "Folks can count at their homes, too, by watching their feeders and any bird activity around their yards, farms or natural areas."

This year, the Stettler count is on December 17, followed by a potluck supper. The Buffalo Lake count is December 24, and the Red Deer River count is December 31.

If you'd like to participate in the count, Lipski has a few tips:

  • Counts on the designated days are emailed to Please let them know ahead of time where you wish to count so areas aren't overlapping.

  • Record what species you saw and how many of each species. Also, mark down how long you were watching, and the distance travelled if you were driving, walking, skiing or riding.

  • Don't count a bird each time you see it, rather count the total you saw at one time so you're not counting the same bird a number of times. ("This gets tricky when the birds are busy at feeding stations," says Lipski.)

  • Please give the names of each person that helped count so they can be acknowledged.

After the counts are completed, a volunteer compiles the individual reports and submits the findings to Birds Canada.

The Christmas Bird Count is conducted each year between December 14 and January 5.

Christmas Bird Count Map 2023

Stettler Local editor


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