The combined efforts of Marg Paré of Waterloo Region Nature and Jenna Quinn of the rare Charitable Research Reserve brought to fruition our first Christmas Bird Count for Kids (held on January 7, 2017) — and a rare (pun intended) success it was.
Gerrit Kaminga, rare‘s program facilitator welcomed everyone and explained rare‘s myriad activities and research ventures.
To start the program I gave a short presentation to give the kids (and perhaps a few of their parents too) a few tips on how to bird successfully and covered several common species that we hoped to find as we broke into groups and ventured forth outside. Emily then explained to the kids how to use binoculars and they practiced inside before trying them on the birds of the great outdoors.
Children of roughly similar age made up each team; our group called the Chickadee Team comprised the youngest children of all.
It was not long before Hunter told his mom that he was cold so she took him back inside. Stephanie, Emily, Cordelia and I carried on; it seemed as though Cordelia found new life and wanted to run and explore forever. She couldn’t resit having her picture taken by the Bald Eagle sculpture featured at the trailhead.
Walking on farther, it was not long before we found fresh Wild Turkey tracks, although we never did see any birds.
The opportunity to hand feed a chickadee could not be passed up, but the birds wouldn’t cooperate and we moved on.
We headed back to the rare ECO Centre where hot chocolate and coffee awaited us. Hunter had been happily playing with his mom while we were outside.
Cordelia couldn’t resist hamming it up a little as she donned her mother’s ear muffs and sun glasses. We thought she looked like a movie star trying to travel incognito!
All of the teams slowly filtered back and tallies were finalized and lively discussions took place.
It has been a great day, thoroughly enjoyed by all. I am sure this will now become an annual event and I am looking forward to helping out again next year. Maybe Marg was already making the arrangements!
Species seen by Team Chickadee: Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura (12), Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens (2), Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata (1), Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus (13), White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis (2), American Tree Sparrow Spizelloides arborea (2), House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus (5).
By: David M. Gascoigne
David Gascoigne is a part of rare’s volunteer bird monitoring team. He documents his own adventures on his blog www.travelswithbirds.blogspot.com.