Annual Christmas bird count in Timmins reveals health of the environment
TIMMINS -- An annual bird count in Timmins saw many turn out over the weekened.
Now in its 27th year, the count takes place the last Saturday before Christmas and involves ‘Citizen Scientists’ heading out on some nature trails or to backyard bird feeders to count birds.
But it's about much more than a simple head count. According to organizers, the data reveals information about the environment.
"Birds are of course ... kind of an indication of how well our environment is doing so if we've got lots of different species .... we know our environment's doing very well,” said Mark Joron, an organizer of the Timmins Christmas bird count.
Eighteen people volunteered outside this year to count birds throughout the city and to take note of the species they saw.
Rhonda Donley from Cochrane said she happily signed up. As a wildlife biologist and the organizer of the Christmas bird count for Iroquois Falls, she’s naturally interested in learning about the creatures.
"In years where there's a lot of natural food, the birds are not going to come to the feeder so you think, oh no, the bird population has crashed, but then your people who are out doing the trails are recording far more birds than they normally do, it's a way of keeping an eye on the health of the forest,” said Donley.
The Timmins bird count has fifty-four types of birds to watch for during the count and sightings vary from year-to-year.
Kees Pols has participated in the count for a number of years. He spends a lot of time on local nature trails such as the ones at Hersey Lake Conservation Area.
"I know there are a lot of birds around, but for some reason, this morning, they're a little on the shy side. But you've got your Buntings and your Crossbills and a lot of woodpeckers and actually there's a Blue jay here which is unique and it's always a surprise what you can come across,” said Pols.
All the data that’s collected during the Christmas bird count is sent to the National Audubon Society which has been tracking for one-hundred and twenty-one years.
"It's all on online now and what's really cool about that is if you're going somewhere and you want to know all what kind of birds you're going to see during that winter go online ... and you'll have the list of the birds you see on their Christmas bird counts over the years,” explained Joron.
Organizers said if people want to participate in the count next year, but from their own back yards, set aside four hours in the day during which they can write down the highest number of birds of one species seen at a feeder at one time.