The annual Victoria Christmas Bird Count, hosted by the Victoria Natural History Society, brought out a record number of people, documenting hundreds of birds, some that have not been seen for years.
Over 290 people gathered in various neighbourhoods and parks Dec. 17 for the count, tallying more than 83,000 birds.
Counters identified 138 different species, including some that have not been counted since 1993, such as the Blue Jaw. Counters also saw Clay-coloured Sparrows and Short-billed Dowitchers, which are also not common sightings.
The American Robin was out in high numbers, with volunteers counting 7877 and Anna’s Hummingbirds were also high on the list at 1053, even though there are typically more of the little bird buzzing around.
Coordinator Ann Nightingale said the extreme weather is likely to blame for their lower than average numbers, but as they tend to breed quickly, that should rebound in the next few years.
Nightingale said the increase in participation was partly due to the pandemic hatching more birdwatchers.
“People started noticing the birds in their yards and neighbourhoods, and for many birding has become a new hobby,” Nightingale said.
“Of the more than 2600 Christmas Bird Count circles, we have had the highest number of field participants for the last five years, and with more than 290 counters this year, I expect we will top the list again. We haven’t reached the top overall, though, as our feederwatch component can’t compete with some of those larger cities with a lot more backyard birders. We’re working on that, though!”
The Christmas count is a family friendly event, open to bird watchers of all age, including children who can participate in the Christmas Birth Count for Kids.
“We’ve always welcomed children to participate in the count, but this is a special family friendly component that doesn’t require the young birders to be out counting quite as long,” Nightingale said. “They also get to join in some fun games and check out some cool bird parts. We hope that this becomes a must-do annual event for the community.”
This year’s final count will be held Dec.27, in Metchosin and Sooke and for more information as well as the count results, visit christmasbirdcount.ca