CBC – Message from George Sirk

Christmas Bird Count (CBC)! Sunday, December 17

a message from George Sirk:

It’s that time of year again everyone!

We will be scouring the island for all the birds that make Cortes their winter home. It’s a fun event, and we will be dividing the island up into different zones with respective “leaders” tallying all the bird species and their numbers.

Open to all levels of interest in birding. Bring binoculars (if you have them) and a favourite field guide. Be sure to bring lunch and something warm to drink, and cozy clothes and good walking shoes. Hopefully, we’ll have good weather – and it is predicted to be fair (sun/cloud).

If you can’t make the field trips, please count the birds in your backyard, as we tally those important sightings as well. Often fairly common birds such as Chickadees are missed by field surveys – so the backyard counts are very valuable.

If you haven’t done it yet, then spread a bit of birdseed close to your house (just sprinkle a cup on the ground in an open area, so the birds will eat it all up on the same day). If you have chickens, then probably best not to attract wild birds as there are links to avian flu from wild birds. And, if you don’t put out too much seed at once you won’t attract rats either.

If you have a favourite remote area that you want to visit let us know (250-935-6340 or cimas@twincomm.ca).

Keep an ear out at night for owls as well – the common Barred (with its “Who cooks for youuu?” and its SCREAMS of terror) and the simple repetitive whistle of the Pygmy – not much bigger than a big cup! There is a pair of Great Horned Owls on the island as well and they have the classic Western movies” who-who-who..who-who”… something like that! We missed owls last year on the count day, and we missed Pileated Woodpeckers!  – and we know they are here. Hawks are always hard to pick up on the count day and if you see an almost raven-sized hawk with a long tail – that’ll be the elusive Goshawk… not so elusive for those of you keeping chickens! If the long-tailed hawk is crow-sized – it’ll be a Cooper’s, and if only jay-sized – that’s a Sharp-shinned. They’re like the “papa/mama/baby bear” complex of hawks.

If you have bushes (hawthorn, mountain ash, ornamentals, and arbutus…) then really monitor them as they attract rarities as well as common birds. All birds are great!

If you find something that you think is rare – please take a picture…even a small cell phone shot will help to ID the bird. Field notes are valuable as well. The Museum has Cortes Island bird checklists available for $5 – with all proceeds going to the museum. The checklist is invaluable for looking up the birds that are rare. It’ll help you narrow down the species of the common ones as well. For a great, non-commercial website, go to Cornell University’s All About Birds website, https://www.allaboutbirds.org, You can look up birds by species and they always have the calls as well.

Contact the Museum at 250-935-6340 or email cimas@twincomm.ca with your backyard sightings. And if you’re coming out on the count day, it’s always nice to have you pre-register with the Museum. Or you can just decide to join us impromptu on the day.

Sunday, December 17, is the most important day when the numbers of birds count. Saturday and Monday, the Count Week or CW, we care only for species names, and only if they were not reported on Sunday already. They will be marked as CW (count week).

With your reports, please add the location of your observations.

George Sirk