Volunteer citizen citizen scientists will be keeping a careful distance during the 121st annual Audubon bird count in Langley on Dec. 27. (John Gordon/special to Langley Advance Times)

Keeping a careful distance, participants prepare for 121st annual bird count in Langley

Event is part of an international effort to tally bird species

Just like everything else happening in this crazy year, the White Rock/Surrey/Langley Christmas Bird Count will be taking place on Dec 27th, but with some definite differences due to the pandemic.

The biggest change will be the absence of social gatherings before and after the counts. In addition, participants will be maintaining social distancing rather than being shoulder to shoulder in groups.

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These groups are made up of volunteer “citizen scientists” who will be checking gardens, parks, and green spaces. In addition the event will see more single individuals or family groups covering ground separately. Many people will be instead be minding their backyard feeders as a perfectly acceptable ways of coming up with their lists.

“There was a choice given to compilers or circle leaders to cancel their counts, but the majority of organizers chose to hold their counts around the continent,” said Mike Klotz, one of the organizers of the event.

Directions were given by the National Audubon Society to wait until Nov 15 to come up with suitable safety precautions depending on local COVID-19 guidelines.

“These may be adjusted depending on Dr. Bonnie’s response to the numbers in the coming weeks,” Klotz added.

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Christmas bird counts began in 1900, when a group of concerned natural historians felt it was better to count living birds than try to shoot as many as possible in a day. This group of forward thinkers, made up of people from across the continent, set out to record lists of birds in a set area every year, and 121 years later, in over 2,000 areas, the count lives on.

In 1962, the first count was carried out in the Surrey municipality with 17 observers.

That same count now has grown to 120 people as of 2019.

To be a part of the count this year contact Gareth Pugh to get the details of when and where there may be some need to help out. Gareth can be reached at 604-649-1027 or at gareth@intergate.ca.

Being a part of the count does not require people to be out in the local parks and fields, organizers said.

You can join by sitting in at your kitchen table and counting the birds that come to your feeder or travel through your yard. As long as your address falls within the count circle those numbers can be used in the overall count.

The following link can determine if someone is in the circle: https://www.birdscanada.org/bird-science/christmas-bird-count/

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