Banff-Canmore Christmas Birdcount 2014

I have been doing birdcounts for 6 years, at first with the BowKan Birders,  and recently with the Banff-Canmore Birdcount as well.

Birdcounts originated from a Christmas traditon of shooting birds to see how many you could bag in a day, not mattering whether or not they were rare, or if their carcasses were to be used for anything or not. In 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed counting birds instead of killing them. That year, 27 volunteers went out and participated in the first birdcount ever.

Frank Chapman.

The Christmas Birdcount, or the CBC as it is known, is a way to keep track of around how many, and what, birds are around in winter. Ornithologists working for Bird Studies Canada take the collected data from all the different count circles and compile it into one huge list of bird species with the numbers seen that year, from all across Canada. With this information, BSC can figure out what species need the time and money donated the most.

Every count circle (15 miles, or 24 Kilometers) has at least one area organiser. The Banff-Canmore circle needs two, because two towns are included. After two years of counting with a friend in Banff, I was promoted to the Canmore Co-ordinator. The previous organiser had done the job for six years, despite being a non-birder, and was ready to pass on the responsobility. Another birder recommended me. Thanks to him, I got together with Colleen Campbell and she showed me all the files and previous records that I needed to know for when the time came.

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Common Ravens were one of the most common birds, as always, this year.

I want – on behalf of the whole Canmore birding community – to thank Colleen for having done a magnificent job of coordinating the CBC.  And personally, thanks for the way in which she has helped and mentored me, so that I can continue her good work.

As Canmore Co-ordinator, I need to remind former participants that the count is coming up, put them into already divided parts of the town, sometimes with, sometimes without other volunteers and later to open my house to all of the counters so that they can have a snack, warm drink and report what they have seen on the day. I then put all of the results into a spreadsheet and take it to the Potluck dinner to give the tally to the area compiler who then gives it Bird Studies Canada who then puts it in with all of the other counts from across Canada.

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There was only Northern Flicker this year in Canmore.

Count circles are spread across Canada. They are open to all birders, novice or experienced. If you want to participate in a CBC, feel free to look up count circles near you here: BSC CBC.

Should anyone want to view the collective results of Banff and Canmore, click here: Summary (Banff-Canmore). If you want to see only the Canmore results, they are here: Summary (Canmore).

6 thoughts on “Banff-Canmore Christmas Birdcount 2014

  1. Megan Raby

    I’m wondering if you can tell me where the image of Chapman with his desk-chair is from. It looks to me like it might be Barro Colorado Island. I’ve written a book that includes some discussion of his work there and had been looking for a better image of the set-up he used to observe birds.

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  2. Diana

    Congratulations on coordinating your first bird count, Ethan! I heard you did a great job taking on the responsibility and that the event was a great success! This is a terrific post (thanks for the history lesson), and I am touched by your humility and gratitude toward your predecessors, those in your immediate circles, and for the birding community in general.
    Happy New Year!
    Auntie Di

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