It’s time again to join in some fun and help to improve the knowledge of what birds are present on and around Cortes at this time of year. This year the CBC on Cortes is scheduled for Sunday, December 18.
If you haven’t set up a bird feeder – get some seeds (local stores carry them) and get them out. Even if you don’t have a "feeder," sprinkling seeds on the ground in an open area (so cats don’t prey on them) is good too. Just put out enough for the day. And why not get a hummingbird feeder for Christmas? Our Anna’s is a resident, and the more feeders are out the better chance they have to survive. The Anna’s hummingbirds colonized Cortes in the 1980s and are now established here.
The Cortes Island Museum has a new batch of checklists of the birds here (Birds of Cortes and Mitlenatch Islands, British Columbia
, G.P. Sirk, Ch.W. Gronau, F.C. Zwickel), so pick one of those up. The list is very good at letting you know what to expect and what is rare. With unusual birds – please take a picture! Rarities are best photographed; "field notes" are useful, but nothing beats a picture. Even a cell phone shot. As this is a science-based report, all birds need to be correctly identified. The museum also has the list of Cortes birds on their website (www.cortesmuseum.com/bird-counting/)
There is a “count period” on three days on either side of the actual bird count (this year between Dec. 15 and Dec. 21). This is to record unusual sightings of birds: they will be entered in the Audubon database as CW (count week sighting).
Contact the museum to register or turn up at 9 a.m. at the Museum or in Whaletown on Seavista Road, close to the intersection with Harbour Road, if you want to go out around the island with experienced birders and see what we can find.
(For football fans: contact Chris Napper in Whaletown, where to meet, if you would like to come a bit later; for Mansons birders – meet George and Peter on Mansons dock around 10 a.m.)
The museum will be open from 11:30 to 1:30 for lunch (bring your own) and a warm-up (there’ll be tea and coffee). At 4 p.m., the group leaders will meet again at the museum and compile the findings; all are welcome to join the tally meeting.But remember: the birds in your back yard are great to note and send in the data.
There’s an influx of Fox Sparrows this year – so look out for them –- they are larger than the Song Sparrow without the grey head stripes and are even deep chocolate brown. Maybe you have the only American robin on the island! There’s got to be one somewhere!
All records are valuable.
Please email your records to cimastwincomm.ca not later than December 22.
-- by George Sirk