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Nature Club is Going to the Birds! December 4, 2021 @ 9:20am - Contributed by Claudia Lipski - The Buffalo Lake Nature Club

Snowy Owl: Photo by Dr. Charley Bird

It's that time again! It's time for the annual Christmas Bird Counts! Hooray!

Soon, Buffalo Lake Nature Club members, along with friends, families and neighbours, will team up to scout out the birds and other creatures that stay in our area during the winter. We have several hardy species that can handle the cold and unpredictable weather better than some of our human counterpart Snowbirds!

What a great time of year to go looking for birds! We can all use a little cheer, and finding that flock of redpolls or waxwings or that Snowy Owl, is a thrill. Finding the birds is not a competition unless you have the greatest finds! For those just beginning to identify birds, this is the perfect nature event. In our area, there are about twenty bird species that stay with us during the winter. This makes identification much easier, rather than trying to identify the 300 plus species that may be found in Alberta in the other seasons.

It can be a pleasant surprise when tallying the number of birds! Even at minus 30* C, when we wouldn't expect to see any living creature moving, we may come across a flock of 300 Snow Buntings, and our count numbers get a huge boost!

Three separate counts have been scheduled. Two of these, the Stettler/Botha (December 19th) and Buffalo Lake (December 26th) counts have been ongoing since 1973 and 1979 respectively, and the Erskine/Red Deer River count (January 2nd) has been active since 1992. The Christmas Bird Count itself began in 1900. Long-term data shows trends in bird populations that can be used by researchers and scientists when planning conservation strategies and is interesting on the local level to note changes in bird populations and distribution.

Each count takes place within an Audubon designated 24 km diameter circle. Within each circle, all birds seen, whether at a feeding station or in the trees, sky, fields, ditches or along roadways, are tallied, and the resulting final numbers for the area are compiled and then submitted to Audubon. Folks can count birds by looking out their windows, observing their bird feeders or by spending time outdoors, whether walking, skiing, snowshoeing or driving the back roads. Every set of eyes (in every corner of the circle!) helps gain a more accurate count.

Join in the fun! Information can be found at Christmas Bird Counts – Nature Alberta or send an email to to inquire about the local Buffalo Lake Nature Club counts and how you may participate.


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