The annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) takes place in the Blaine area on January 5, but there are two other annual counts that local birders can also participate in.
The Bellingham CBC, under the leadership of Joe Meche, will be done on Sunday, December 18. Blaine birder R.B. Porter will lead what he’s calling a “floating” CBC that will be done on the Anacortes to Sidney, B.C. ferry run on Saturday, December 17.
The tradition of counting birds at Christmas goes back well over a century and is one way to assess the health and stability of bird populations, an important indicator of the health of an over-all ecosystem.
Bird populations are notoriously difficult to count, but even with the expected inaccuracies, designating one day when volunteers try to count all the birds in a 15-mile circle yields helpful information, especially when it’s repeated annually over time.
The Audubon Society has been at it for 106 years. The first count, held in the year 1900, involved 27 conservationists in 25 different areas.
This winter an estimated 55,000 birders will participate in about 2,000 specified areas all over the western hemisphere.
Each group is responsible for tasking a census of all the birds found during one 24-hour period between December 14 and January 5 in an area of roughly 177 square miles, designated by a circle 15 miles in diameter.
Circles are set up so that they do not over lap, which is why Blaine lies outside Bellingham’s count area.
Blaine belongs to a circle drawn in the Fraser Valley roughly centered on Pitt Meadows, and the count is traditionally supervised by the White Rock and Surrey Naturalists, a partner in the CBC with Audubon through Bird Studies Canada.