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Christmas Bird Counts

It's that time of year again! We will be celebrating our 62th annual count in Saskatoon on Boxing Day. Plan to be part of the best recreational event our winter season has to offer! Did you know that last year more than 60,000 people across North America took part? And in Saskatchewan, 93 communities organized Christmas bird counts. Count yourself in!

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Anyone who appreciates in birds is encouraged to join in. Beginners are especially welcome - no expertise is required. You will be assigned to an experienced leader. Just dress warmly and be prepared to spend a few hours counting birds in your neighborhood or an assigned sector.

It is a great way to enjoy a fine winter day and learn to recognize some of our winter resident birds, and there is always a possibility that you may have the thrill of finding a rare winter visitor.

If you maintain a back yard feeder and are not able to go outdoors, you may sign up as a "feeder watcher" for the day and count the birds from the comfort of your home. You will phone in your sightings at the end of the day.

The Christmas Bird Count "count period" lasts from December 14 to January 5 inclusive. If you see an unusual bird during this period, please report it to the count coordinator.


The Saskatoon Nature Society organizes three local counts. The main Saskatoon count, which covers most of the city and some surrounding area, is traditionally held on Boxing Day, December 26th. The Clark's Crossing count (Saturday, December 17th) and the Pike Lake count (Monday, January 2nd) cover adjacent areas north and south of the city.

Good news: Participation fees are gone. The National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada now rely on donations to cover the cost of compiling and publishing CBC results. To donate online, go to

1. CLARK'S CROSSING - Saturday, 17. December 2016

Welcome to the 26th annual count. This count circle includes the north end of Saskatoon (Silverwood Heights), Martensville, Warman, Osler, and part of the Strawberry Hills. Residents of these areas are particularly encouraged to participate.

Contact Michael Williams (306-242-5383) as soon as possible.

2. SASKATOON - Boxing Day - Monday, 26. December 2016

Plan now to take part in the 62th annual Saskatoon Boxing Day Bird Count. All you have to do is sign up by calling the count coordinator before December 22 and set aside a few hours in the morning or afternoon or all day if you wish on December 26. Count hours are between dawn and dusk which at this time of year makes for a short day. Teams working in rural areas usually go out for the whole day while city counters may make more flexible arrangements.

Field participants are invited to a come-and-go social with warming snacks and drinks at the end of the day when team leaders report results and participants share stories. This year Bill and Audrey MacKenzie have graciously offered to host the postcount roundup at their home in Lakeview.

Contact Michael Williams (306-242-5383) for more information.

3. PIKE LAKE - Monday, 2. January 2017

Join us on this, the 34th Annual Bird Count in the Pike Lake area. We have 7 sectors with designated leaders in place and are now looking for volunteers to provide extra eyes and ears, to help us find those few extra species to make this a record year.

Usually, we depart Saskatoon around 8:00 a.m. and return around 5:00 p.m. You can meet your sector leader in town or at a rendezvous location near the park. The time will pass quickly as we move by car around the sectors, checking out various habitats for the different birds and mammals. Please bring a picnic lunch for the noon break at the church ($2 donation per person) which also provides an opportunity to meet the other counters and share some stories.

If you enjoy being outdoors, learning about the birds and the local area, this is a great outing to join.

To volunteer, please contact Beverly Schmidt or Murray Morgan by email at bevnmurray[at] and include the names and number of participants, your email address, and contact phone numbers (home, work, and/or cell). Or call or text at 306-321-7498.


For those who like to travel farther afield (or even overnight) there are other counts that might interest you.

Qu'Appelle Valley Dam: Sunday, 18. December 2016
An all day trip to Elbow and the Douglas Park area, leaving Saskatoon at 7:00a.m. and returning in the evening.
Contact: Michael Williams (306-242-5383)

Radisson - Borden: Friday, 16. December 2016
The count area includes the villages of Radisson, Borden, the Borden Bridge plus Eagle Creek near the Scisson's Environmental Centre.
Contact: Stan Shadick (306-652-5975)

Harris: Wednesday, 14. December 2016
Gardiner Dam: Monday, 19. December 2016
Biggar: Tuesday, 27. December 2015
Contact Guy Wapple (306-249-3280) to confirm dates and volunteer.


Canada Geese on Buffalo Pound lake

Canada geese on Buffalo Pound lake, Saskatchewan. Photo by Branimir Gjetvaj

CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT FOR KIDS: Thursday 29. December 2016

Have you ever wondered what birds can be found in Saskatoon in the winter? The Christmas Bird Count gives everyone the opportunity to discover our winter birds and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of our feathered friends.

The Christmas Bird Count began 117 years ago and is now one of the world's longest running wildlife surveys, with thousands of people participating all over North America. Traditionally, most participants are adults, and the desire to get families and children involved lead to the creation of the Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids). The Saskatoon Young Naturalists have been hosting our CBC4Kids since 2013 and we have a lot of fun - including cookies and hot chocolate between counts.

The Christmas Bird Count is free and everyone is welcome to join in. You do not need any bird experience to participate. This makes the CBC4Kids a great way for people to get into bird watching. Whether you are a curious beginner who wants to learn more about birds, or an experienced bird watcher, this is the event for you. Experienced birders are always willing to share their knowledge with newcomers.

The Saskatoon CBC4Kids taking place on December 29th at the Affinity Learn Centre in the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo. The event isn't just for kids and families though, as it is open to anyone who wants to attend. The bird count runs from 10:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. with a bird walk at the top of each hour. Then it's time to warm up with our hot chocolate and cookies until the top of the next hour. Everyone is welcome to stay for the whole day, or to just come for one of the top-of-thehour walks. Best of all, everything is free. Anyone planning to attend is reminded to dress appropriately for the weather and bring your binoculars. Don't worry if you don't have binoculars, we will have a few pair we can loan out for the day.

But there is a bigger picture than just getting people outdoors and appreciating nature. Bird counts contribute to our scientific knowledge about birds and nature. Since the researchers that study birds cannot everywhere at once, events like the Christmas Bird Counts incorporates the concept of Citizen Science, where everyday people collect the information the scientists use to improve our understanding of bird behaviour. Changes in bird numbers and distribution can signal a change in habitat or climate, and this information gives scientists a long-term record to analyze the effect of change and what the consequences will mean to us. As a result, every count holds potentially valuable information even when it might not be studied for years to come.

Come and join us on Thursday, December 29th. Count birds for science, and enjoy some fresh air, and check out our winter birds.

Greg Fenty

Visit the Young Naturalists webpage for more information: young-naturalists

Last updated: 3 December, 2016