Two dedicated birdwatchers brave the brisk wind on Jan. 5 to observe birds in a Whaletown bay.

Christmas Bird Count results a hoot with naturalist George Sirk

CKTZ News, through an LJI grant from Canada-info.ca

The results are finally in from the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) held on Cortes Island on Jan. 5.

Despite the unseasonably cold weather, 29 people noted observations in the field or at their home bird feeder, collectively recording 2,963 individuals of 70 various species. Island resident George Sirk, whose naturalist-guide work has taken him Papua New Guinea to Greenland, said these numbers are right on the mark with the 21-year average.

Red-breasted Sapsucker is a type of woodpecker. Photo courtesy of George Sirk.

The surf scoter was the most numerous overall with 1096 individuals, and the most common land-based bird was the dark-eyed junco, with 188 individual birds.

Two male surf scoters. Photo courtesy of George Sirk.

The count, a global day of citizen science, is overseen by the Audubon Society in the United States, and the Cortes Museum has been coordinating it locally for two decades.

Besides the main count day, people can report rare bird sightings in what’s called the “count week” surrounding the officially designated 24-hour event. This year, these sightings included a snow goose, a flock of Bohemian waxwings, and a rough-legged hawk, among others.

Anna’s hummingbird in torpor due to cold weather. Photo courtesy of George Sirk.
George Sirk

Top photo credit: Two dedicated birdwatchers brave the brisk wind on Jan. 5 to observe birds in Plunger Pass, Whaletown- Photo by Anastasia Avvakumova.