Christmas Bird Count 2020 Dr. Bonnie Henry’s Style – Monday, Dec. 28

Every year the Cortes Island Museum sponsors the Christmas Bird Count, but 2020 is a different year and we were following Dr. Bonnie Henry’s directives.

Gorgeous weather aided those participating in the Cortes Island Museum’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) held on Monday, December 28.  No doubt the ideal conditions this year were reflected in the high number of species counted and overall number of birds observed.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we changed our usual way of conducting the CBC.  Rather than splitting into small groups to cover the island, this year the Museum asked previous count leaders to cover specific areas, and islanders to record birds in the vicinity of their homes. A big thank you to all the participants.

With so many people participating individually, tabulating the results this year proved to be a challenge. Usually, we meet in-person at the end of the day to discuss results, compare notes, and arrive at numbers confirmed by all participants. This year, we had the challenge of compiling the results and then confirming and discussing by phone and email, so it took a bit more time. Special thanks to George Sirk, Nancy Kendel and Christian Gronau, who helped reconcile observations coming from so many participants.  You can find the most recent tables on  our birding page.

A shorebird sighting of Greater Yellowlegs from last year, was confirmed this year in two different locations: the Whaletown Lagoon and in the south end. There was an unconfirmed sighting of a Three-toed Woodpecker in the Squirrel Cove area this year.  So, keep an eye out for this bird, and if you spot it send us a picture to verify the sighting.  A previous spring sighting of this species was near Blue Jay Lake Farm.

Thanks again to all the participants!  We hope you join us for the spring bird count held in early May.


Our youngest birder, Lilah Bird, browsing the birding field guides for the CBC, 2018

Cortes Island CBC is co-sponsored by the Cortes Island Museum and Bird Studies Canada.  Participants usually divide up into small groups to cover the island’s best birding spots. All groups have experienced birders willing to share their knowledge, so novices are welcome!  A hot catered lunch can be reserved – specify veggie or meat. Bring binoculars, bird books and dress warmly. Backyard birdfeeder observers also needed.  Participants must pre-register by calling 250-935-6340 or via email at cimas@twincomm.ca.

Final results are available on our bird count page.

Each Christmas Bird Count is conducted on a single day between December 14 and January 5. Birders and nature enthusiasts on Cortes Island join birders across the western hemisphere to participate in North America’s longest-running wintertime birding tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  The CBC is conducted in over 2000 localities across Canada, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean.  As well as adding an exciting and fun event to the holiday season, the Christmas Bird Count provides important information for bird conservation. Data from the count were used in assessment reports that added Western Screech-Owl, Rusty Blackbird and Newfoundland Red Crossbill to the Species at Risk Act list, and the general database was used extensively in the recent State of Canada’s Birds report.

The CBC began over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by scientist and writer Frank Chapman, changed the course of ornithological history.  On Christmas Day in 1900, the small group posed an alternative to the “side hunt,” a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals.  Instead, Chapman proposed that they identify, count and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the world’s most significant citizen-based conservation effort – and a more than a century-old institution.