Christmas Bird Count for Kids


“Open up a whole new world of discovery for kids”

By Shelly Wiebe

Birds Canada, formerly known as Bird Studies Canada, hosted their longest running Citizen Science Project, the Christmas Bird Count for Kids, on Saturday, Dec. the 7th and a large group of binocular clad, young enthusiasts came together eager to learn.
Gathered at the Long Point Bird Observatory in the hopes of seeing some feathered friends and learn more about the importance of birding, kids ranging in age and experience were given a tour of the trails surrounding the property, a short lesson on bird banding and an overview of how you can discover and locate birds on your own.

Above: Doug Tozer, Colleen Dale, Natasha Barlow, Sean Jenniskens, Grant Davis, Myles Falconer, Amanda Bichel, Kate Dagleish and Kerrie Wilcox were some of the knowledgeable and experienced birders and volunteers that helped out with the Christmas Bird Count for Kids. The snacks and hot drinks were provided by Ted and Paula Gent.

Megan Hiebert, who is an Ontario Swift Watch Coordinator for Birds Canada, hosted the event with the help from fellow colleagues and friends to the LPBO family.
The knowledge and expert advice given to the children and their parents during the Bird Count was not only informative, but friendly, making sure even the newest to the hobby of bird-watching would feel welcomed and encouraged.
“We live in a super cool area and that’s why there’s so many research and education centres right in our own back yard,” Megan told the Good News. “Norfolk County is the most bio-diverse place in Canada and birds are an indicator species…by monitoring them we can figure out what’s happening in our environments, our ecosystems and potentially our health.”
Megan presented a quick slide show on the different ways birds can be identified from a distance which included their call, the shape of their body, the shape of their tail and their flight path.
“Birding is something you learn on your own over time and discipline,” says Megan. “The more you are outside listening and observing, the more you’ll pick up… it is a really interesting hobby and if you record your data into the E-bird app it can be used to help scientists learn more about our area.”
Lead by Doug Tozer, one of the CBC groups continued their birding at the Birds Canada site in Port Rowan where they were able to observe several species of Gulls on the water, a Hairy woodpecker, a Blue jay and a Red-tailed hawk flying overhead.
“Hosting the Christmas Bird Count for Kids is a great way to inspire the younger generation to take advantage of this area. It’s really about education and advocacy. If kids don’t know, they won’t care. We want to keep the tradition of this bird count alive as an opportunity to open up a whole new world of discovery for kids,” said Megan.
To be a citizen scientist and continue with the bird count on your own, Megan advises that you download the free eBird app where you can keep, report and submit your findings and data. “Some great places to look for birds locally include the trails at Birds Canada and the Long Point Bird Observatory – which are open to the public – as well as the lookout on the causeway and the new Provincial Park.”