From north of Thunder Bay southward to Pelee Island and northwest near Atikokan eastward towards Ottawa in Ontario, between December 14 and January 5, Christmas Bird Counts give bird lovers a good reason to look forward to winter.
There are more than 100 Christmas Bird Counts in Ontario planned, of which more than 65 are affiliated with our Nature Network groups. This year, because of its diverse overwintering species and diverse habitat, I chose to volunteer and participate in the St. Catharines Area Christmas Bird Count, coordinated by members of the Peninsula Field Naturalists.
In one month last fall, I heard the heartbreaking thud of six birds hitting windows at my home. I care about birds, so I decided to do something.
The Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) estimates that 100 million to 1 billion North American birds are killed annually in collisions with windows. Residential homes are the biggest hazard. They kill or injure more songbirds than all other buildings combined.
The first time I went out to look at birds, I had no idea what I was doing. Not only did I show up without binoculars, but I didn’t even know how to refer to the activity. When I met my birding group for the first time in a parking lot in Mississauga, I asked: “Are you all here to birdwatch?””No. We’re here to bird.” My first taxonomic faux pas.