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Christmas Bird Counts this weekend in Norfolk

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The Canada-wide Christmas Bird Count will look a little different this year due to COVID-19.

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In Norfolk County, the two counts, in Long Point and Woodhouse, will be happening on Saturday and Sunday.

“Unlike previous years, CBC’s across the country are not ‘events’ this year in the strictest sense,” said Stu Mackenzie, director of migration ecology with Birds Canada. “All participants have predetermined areas to count birds either alone or with members of their household. There is no overlap in the survey areas, and no gatherings will take place either indoors or outdoors.”

The bird counts will still occur, but in a reduced manner.

“The CBC, in particular, has an extremely robust dataset compiled over 120 years which means that missing one season, or not having as good coverage, will not have an adverse impact on the data,” Mackenzie said. “The outreach, networking, and education that happens for many thousands of people across the country will be lost this year, but we’ll make up for it in the future.”

In other areas, such as Windsor, currently in lockdown, the birding events have been cancelled altogether.

“The Christmas Bird Count is actually a great social event, it’s an opportunity for birders to gather” said Paul Pratt, president of the Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club.

A big part of the annual counts is the compilation of numbers at the end of the day — total numbers tabulated and total numbers of species observed.

“We have a huge potluck where we gather, and the stories are told about what birds we encountered … and the miscellaneous adventures,” said Pratt.

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The Birds Canada website has a page outlining their expectations for the events, including the cancellation of post-count dinners.

“If a CBC is able to safely go ahead in your area, we ask that participants comply with all local public health guidelines and practise physical distancing,” said the website. “Birds Canada has advised against organizing gatherings (dinners, wrap-ups, celebrations) that would normally happen at the end of the day’s counting – virtual events in the same spirit may be planned instead.”

More information can be found at https://www.birdscanada.org/important-updates-on-the-christmas-bird-count-and-cbc4kids/.

Birds Canada is also running Project FeederWatch.

Anyone can join Project FeederWatch in Canada by making a donation of any amount to Birds Canada. Visit birdscanada.org/feederwatch, call 1-888-448-2473, or email pfw@birdscanada.org.

Project FeederWatch has launched a FeederWatch mobile app in both the Apple Store and Google Play. Participants now have the option to use the app to keep track of counts, note snow depth and effort, and submit counts directly to the database.

The project started Nov. 14 and continues to April 9.

With files from Postmedia.

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