Christmas Bird Count 2015

The Vermilion River Naturalist Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is set for Saturday, December 19th.

We hope to get many field counters and feeder observers for the day. The count takes place within a 12 km radius of Vermilion, and our field counters cover four quadrants: outside of Vermilion, in Town, the Provincial Park, the College grounds and the River Valley (numbers permitting).

Field counters drive as many roads as possible, and try to visit farm yards, building sites, and other areas where birds may be found. Feeder counts are very important for the day — many unusual species are found at feeders. If you aren’t able to join us in the field, you can use the data sheet for recording feeder/field observations. You can find our Christmas Bird Count tally sheet here.

If you know anyone interested in joining the count, please pass copies of the data sheets to anyone with a bird feeder. At the end of the day, please send feeder watch results by email (vermilionnaturalistsociety AT gmail DOT com). Please include the numbers, time observed, and a phone number for follow-up.

We are having our traditional potluck supper at the end of the count day, where we enjoy a wonderful meal and share tales of the day by a warm fire. We’ll pool our data as we socialize, and with luck have a species total and preliminary count numbers before the evening is over. For address details etc., email us or leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you with the particulars.

This year, we’ll put our field teams together by email. Please reply noting which quadrant suits you best, or if you want to join one of the regular teams. The quadrants for the field teams are listed below. Please let me know where you would like to be birding. There can never be too many counters in one quadrant, but we try to place an experienced birder on each team. In fact, with the short days in December, it is a scramble to cover all the roads and farms in a quadrant. So, if you want to join in we can really use the help (even a couple of hours), and young enthusiasts are most welcome!

SW Quadrant –
SE Quadrant –
NE Quadrant –
NW Quadrant –
Town/College/Reservoir –
Provincial Park –

Please let the Naturalist Society know which quadrant you would like or if you have any questions. You can email us at vermilionnaturalistsociety AT gmail DOT com

We hope to see you there!

Winter Bird ID Workshop

This year, the VRNS is hosting another winter bird identification workshop. The workshop will cover species likely to be found during the Vermilion Christmas Bird Count in mid-December. This is a good opportunity to hone your skills before the December 19th count, and also get a better idea of what birds are visiting your feeder in the winter months. The workshop will include photos of local species and discussion of identification tips.

The workshop will be held on Monday, December 7th at Lakeland College in the Mead Building at 7 pm. Room number to come.

This event is free and open not only to members of the Vermilion River Naturalists Society but also to anyone in the community interested in learning the winter species.

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VRNS Christmas Bird Count 2014

The annual Vermilion Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is set for Sunday, December 14th!

VRNS president Chris Olsen writes:

Looking ahead, our annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is set for Sunday, December 14th this year, and as always our goal is to involve as many field counters and feeder observers as possible. The count takes place within a 12 km radius of Vermilion, and our field counters work in teams to cover 4 quadrants outside the Town, as well as in the Town proper, Park, College Grounds and River Valley (numbers permitting).

Field counters attempt to drive as many roads as possible, and try to visit farm yards, building sites, and other activity areas where birds may feed, roost, or congregate. Counts are indexed against time observed and km travelled. Feeder counts are key contributors (we get a lot of rare species that way). Please pass copies along to anyone you know that has a bird feeder, and have them call those results into 780-853-8590 at the end of the count day. Just leave a voicemail with the raw numbers, time observed, and your phone number for a follow-up. You can find our Christmas Bird Count tally sheet here.

The Scotts are once again hosting the traditional potluck supper (ham provided) at the end of the count day. Join us at their house at about 6 pm, and we’ll enjoy a wonderful meal and share tales of the day by a warm fire. We’ll pool our data as we socialize, and with luck have a species total and preliminary count numbers before the evening is over. For address details etc., call or email Chris or leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you.

This year, we’ll put our field teams together by email. Please reply noting which quadrant suits you best, or if you want to join one of the regular teams. Note that we try and have an experienced birder on each team, so we always have enough expertise, but there are never too many observers. In fact, with the short days in December, it is a scramble to cover all the roads and farms in a quadrant. So, if you want to join in we can really use the help (even a couple of hours), and young enthusiasts are most welcome!

Once we have our teams together, I’ll send a note with names and cell phone numbers so that people can connect directly to the teams.

See you then!

We hope to see you there!

For more information and to participate in the count, please email Chris at Chris.Olsen@lakelandcollege.ca

Christmas Bird Count for Kids

[This is a semi-cross post from my personal bird blog, Prairie Birder]

In 2007, Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie of Sonoma Birding created the Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids).

Since the first count in California seven years ago, the event has become very successful across the United States, and in 2010 Bird Studies Canada joined Sonoma Birding as a proud Canadian Partner.

The CBC4Kids is a family-friendly winter bird count where participants learn about common winter birds in the area, and help identify and count birds for North America’s important winter bird census. The events around the country help promote appreciation and awareness for birds and nature.

Here’s the map of all the CBC4Kids events in Canada. You can find more information for each event here,

CBC4Kidsmap

Earlier this month, Liza Barney from Bird Studies Canada emailed to ask if I would be able/interested to hold a CBC4Kids event for my area. I excitedly said yes and started planning right away. I made up this poster and am hoping for a number of kids and parents on the walk,

VRNSCBC4Kidsposter2.0

If you, or someone you know, is interested in organizing and leading a Christmas Bird Count for Kids, contact:
In Canada: Bird Studies Canada, education@birdscanada.org
In the US : Sonoma Birding, sonomanature@gmail.com

More on the CBC4Kids:

:: CBC4Kids Facebook Group

:: CBC4Kids on NPR Radio BirdNote

:: CBC4KIDS at the eBird Young Birders Network

:: Use the hashtag #CBC4Kids on Twitter

Mountain Bluebirds — Nesting Time!

This past Saturday was the Naturalist Society’s annual spring bird count. My post about the count should be published in the next week or so. On the count, I came across a pair of Mountain Bluebirds on the bluebird trail. The other 40 or so boxes on trail are taken over by Tree Swallows who don’t seem to get along too well with the bluebirds.

The Mountain Bluebirds were very co-operative, posing for me nicely and apparently not bothered by me being near them (I was about 30 feet away from the nest box).

Here are a few of my favorite photos of the Mountain Bluebirds from that day,

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IMG_4222 IMG_4298 IMG_4401 IMG_4405 IMG_4418 IMG_4420 IMG_4422

IMG_4333 IMG_4260

 

BirdWatch Canada Monarch Butterfly Article

As part of my Young Ornithologist Internship last fall, at the Long Point Bird Observatory in Ontario, I did a personal research project on the Monarch Butterfly migration at Long Point. As part of my project, I learned Excel so I could help update Monarch data from LPBO from 2007 to 2011. The other part was writing an article based on that data and my project, to update an article Tara Crewe wrote in 2007.

Getting the article ready involved a lot of work with a fairly short deadline, but just like the Young Ornithologist Internship, it was an amazing opportunity for a young naturalist to get involved with research. I got some great support and help from the LPBO staff — Stu, Dayna, Tara, and Janice. My research project article was just published in the Winter edition of the quarterly Bird Watch Canada, from Bird Studies Canada. Here it is!

BirdWatchCanadaMonarchArticle

For a larger version, see visit the PDF version — BirdWatchCanadaMonarchArticle

Monarchs mating at Long Point in September 2013. Photo taken by Charlotte Wasylik

Monarchs mating at Long Point, September 2013. Photo by Charlotte Wasylik

Public Hearing Tonight for Proposed New Oil Terminal West of Vermilion

Tonight, Tuesday Feb. 25th, there is a public hearing at the Vermilion Regional Centre, 7-9 pm, on a NEW proposal for an oil terminal west of Vermilion, along the rail line between Range Roads 74 and 75 (Claysmore). The proposed site and area around it is directly on a drainage leading into the Vermilion River and the Provincial Park.

What are the watershed implications? What groundwater investigations have been done ahead of this proposed industrial re-zoning? What mitigations are proposed for local residences and road users, and the sensitive river crossings? Are there wildlife issues? Most importantly, what are the traffic, rail and air-shed implications for the entire Claysmore-Vermilion area?

If you share these concerns and or have others, please attend tonight’s meeting and make sure your County representatives receive your clear direction.

Here is a Google map of the proposed site,

Tanker Terminal

Nature Spotlight: Common Porcupine

This week’s Nature Spotlight is on the Common Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum). If you have a suggestion or a recommendation for Nature’s Spotlight, or have an idea for a post in the series you’d like to write, please let me know in the comments.

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:: The Common Porcupine is the second largest rodent in North America, smaller only than the beaver.

:: Porcupines don’t hibernate during the winter, but do stick close to their dens. Porcupines are mostly nocturnal but it’s not unusual to see them during the day.

:: The name Porcupine comes from the Latin for “spiny pig”.

:: The Porcupine’s quills are modified stiff hairs with barb-like tips, and a Porcupine has about 30,000 quills on its body.

:: Porcupines are strictly vegetarian and especially like tender bark, twigs, leaves, and tree buds.

:: The gestation period of a Porcupine is six and a half to seven months, and young Porcupines a born with quills. This is one of the longer gestation periods for a rodent.

I found this Common Porcupine sitting in some willows while I was birding a couple of years ago. If you are hoping to catch a glimpse of a Common Porcupine, the Vermilion Provincial Park is a good place to look.

A Common Porcupine, IMG_0673

The 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count starts in a few weeks on Friday, February 14th, and runs though Monday, February 17th!

GBBCPoster

For the GBBC, which is a free event, you just count the birds you see in your backyards, parks, outside your office/school window, or wherever you happen to be. You can do a stationary count or a traveling count, and can count for as little as 15 minutes. Birders of all ages and birding skill levels can participate. Every bird counted is important data for scientists monitoring our bird populations. The GBBC is a fun, free citizen science project which helps bird conservation!

The GBBC is a joint project of The National Audubon Society, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada. Last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count broke records after going global for the first time, and participants reported sightings from all seven continents, 111 countries and independent territories. More than 34.5 million birds and 3,610 species were recorded on the four count days.

I've seen quite a few Northern Shrikes in the Vermilion area, so keep a look out during the GBBC

I’ve seen quite a few Northern Shrikes in the Vermilion area, so keep a look out during the GBBC

For families with kids, there’s a page on the website with coloring pages and other resources. Grab your own buttons here to promote the GBBC. You can embed the button to put on your blog or website. There are buttons in English, French, and Spanish.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is offering free bird songs of the five most-reported species during the annual Great Backyard Bird Count in North America. You can get them here. Also the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has just launched their new free bird ID app called Merlin. The app is very good and I recommend it for new and beginning birders/bird watchers, get it here.

Are you going to participate in this year’s GBBC?

Northern Hawk Owls can also be seen during the GBBC

Northern Hawk Owls can also be seen during the GBBC

Black-capped Chickadees are very common, so make sure they don't get overlooked

Black-capped Chickadees are very common, so make sure they don’t get overlooked

Vermilion Christmas Bird Count Results

The Vermilion Christmas Bird was lots of fun last year. I counted with a friend in the North-West quadrant, we started at 9:30 am and counted until 2 pm.

It was snowing quite heavily at the start of the count and also quite cold. We started by going my grandparents house which is a short drive from my house. On the drive we saw a small flock of Bohemian Waxwings which was very nice. My grandparents’ have quite a few feeders set up and their yard has lots of deciduous trees and evergreen for great bird habitait. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers were feeding at the suet feeders as well as Black-capped Chickadees. Unlike previous years, there was a notable lack of winter finches. After my grandparents, we stopped at some yards to see what birds other people were seeing. While driving, we found some Snow Buntings, Common Ravens and Black-billed Magpies, Rock Pigeons and House Sparrows.

On my way back home we drove though town and saw hundreds of Bohemian Waxwings flying around, also quite a few pigeons. Just before I got home we stopped at the acreages where we saw more Black-capped Chickadees, another Downy and Hairy Woodpecker.

We ended the day with a wonderful potluck in town and tallied up everyone’s totals. The Unofficial count is 16 species (the lowest ever in 25 years of the Vermilion Christmas Bird Count). I will write up another post when I get the official numbers.

Altogether this year’s Christmas Bird Count was very good. And I can’t wait to see what next year will bring!

Here are some photos of my CBC:

A young White-tailed Deer eating from a bird feeder at the acreages,

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A Hairy Woodpecker (photo from 2012, since the 2013 HW wasn’t as co-operative),IMG_4632

The Black-capped Chickadees in my grandparents’ yard were hard to photograph,

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A Downy Woodpecker in my grandmother’s feeder,

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House Sparrows taking a break from one of the feeders at the acreages,

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