For one 24 hour period between December 14th and January 5th the Cortes Island Museum and Archives Society and Bird Studies Canada co-sponsor the Cortes Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The CBC is the longest running citizen science survey and is held all around the world. The information collected from each count is recorded in the Audubon Society’s database. This year the Cortes CBC was held on Sunday the 16th of December.
Given the bad weather Cortes Island has experienced this month, the count day was reasonable with light to moderate winds, cloudy skies and a few showers. The weather worsened just as participants gathered at the end of the day to tally the results. Thirty participants counted and recorded the species and numbers of birds observed. Split into 5 groups, birders covered a variety of habitats and as much of the accessible island as possible. In addition, 4 other residents recorded the birds they saw in their yard or at their feeder. No boat survey was conducted this year, but groups surveyed the beaches and near shore areas with scopes and binoculars. During the 24 hour period of the CBC 70 species were observed. If you would like to view the detailed summary for the 2012 count please visit the website of the Cortes Island Museum & Archives (http://www.cortesmuseum.ca)
Highlights of the day included the 8 Anna’s Hummingbirds that were spotted near feeders, 5 Wilson’s Snipes that were camouflaged well in one farm field and a lone Trumpeter Swan near Gunflint Lake. This year 7 Eurasian Collared-Doves were spotted near feeders at the south end of the island. These birds were introduced from Europe to Florida in the 1980’s and have rapidly spread across North America.
Any unusual birds spotted the week surrounding the CBC are also noted. This year those included a Canvasback Duck, White-winged Scoter, Hooded Merganser, Sooty Grouse, Pigeon Guillemot, Northern Pigmy Owl and Red-winged Blackbird.
Thanks to all the group leaders who shared their knowledge and helped make the day a success. Thanks to Suzanne for catering a hot lunch and to Lynne & Joe Jordan who kindly offered their home overlooking Manson's Lagoon (a great birding spot) as the warm gathering place.
If you missed the CBC plan to join in the Museum's spring birding day tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 4th. Watch the flyers or the web-page in April for details of the event. No previous birding experience is necessary, and it is a great way to have fun and improve your birding skills.