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CBC4Kids   Christmas Bird Count for Kids

Thursday, December 27, 2018
 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
Beaver Creek Conservation Area
(13 km south on highway 219)
Meet at the Interpretation Centre

NO REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED for this FREE come-and-go program that is open to EVERYONE of all ages.

The Young Naturalists and Meewasin are hosting our fifth annual CBC4Kids – A Christmas Bird Count for Kids.

Between 10:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. we will be counting the birds and contributing to Citizen Science studies of bird biodiversity.

At the top of each hour we will head out for about 30-45 minutes to look for birds.  Then we’ll head back indoors and warm up with some cookies and hot chocolate.  We’ll discuss birding tips and how to use binoculars.  Stay for one round of bird counting or come for the whole day!

Dress warmly and bring your binoculars.  We have lots of spare sets of binoculars to loan out if you don’t have any.  You don’t need to be an expert on birds.  This is a great way to learn about winter birds and bird watching.

E-mail saskatoonnaturekids@gmail.com  for more information. At least one parent/guardian must accompany your child/children on all Young Naturalists activities.

 

 

The Christmas Bird Count for Kids

The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 and is now one of the world’s longest running wildlife surveys, with thousands of people participating each year. Traditionally, most participants are adults, and the desire to get families and children involved drove the development of the current Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids) program. The CBC4Kids began in the United States in 2007, was adopted by Bird Studies Canada in 2010, and in 2013 the Saskatoon Young Naturalists started the local event. The whole idea behind CBC4Kids was to have a shorter outing that is not only fun, but educational.

This makes the Christmas Bird Count and CBC4Kids a great way for people to get into bird watching. Whether you are a curious beginner who wants to learn more about birds, or an experienced bird watcher, this is the event for you. The Christmas Bird Count has a good mix of experienced bird watchers and beginners and experience birders are always willing to share their knowledge with newcomers.

As for the birds themselves, there are several different species to count. The Young Naturalists will be looking for regular winter birds such as the chickadees, Bohemian Waxwings, finches, magpies, Blue Jays, crossbills, grosbeaks, woodpeckers, nuthatches and the ubiquitous House Sparrow. But we will also be on the lookout for some of the really cool stuff like shrikes, Great Horned Owls, and over-wintering robins.

However, the Christmas Bird Count has certain rules which must be followed to avoid counting birds twice. For example, once you have seen six chickadees, you cannot add number seven unless you see them all (seven) at one time. Each count is restricted to a circle 24 km in diameter, and participants are not allowed to count outside that area.

This year’s Christmas Bird Count happens between December 14 and January 5, with the Saskatoon CBC4Kids taking place on December 27th at the Beaver Creek Conservation Area. The event isn’t just for kids and families though, as it is open to anyone who wants to attend.  The bird count runs from 10:00 a.m. until 3:30 pm. with a bird walk at the top of each hour. Then it’s time to warm up with our hot chocolate and cookies until the top of the next hour.  Everyone is welcome to stay for the whole day, or to just come for one of the top-of-the-hour walks.  Best of all, everything is free.

Last year was very cold, yet there was many kids who bundled up to count and learn about birds. This year the Saskatoon Young Naturalists are hoping for 75 people, and would love to see the number of kids involved continue to grow. In this age of virtual reality there is a real fear that children are losing touch with the natural world.  It is wonderful to see so many families getting some exercise, enjoying the fresh air, and checking out our feathered friends. Anyone planning to attend is reminded to dress appropriately for the weather and bring your binoculars, though there will be a few pairs available to loan for the day.

But there is a bigger picture than just getting people outdoors and appreciating nature. Bird counts contribute to our scientific knowledge about birds and nature. Since the researchers that study birds cannot everywhere at once, events like the Christmas Bird Counts incorporates the concept of Citizen Science, where everyday people collect the information the scientists use to improve our understanding of bird behaviour.  Changes in bird numbers and distribution can signal a change in habitat or climate, and this information gives scientists a long-term record to analyze the effect of change and what the consequences will mean to us.  As a result, every count holds potentially valuable information even when it might not be studied for years to come.