by Iain Wilkes
Birders and nature enthusiasts in Carleton Place and surrounding areas can join citizen scientists throughout the Americas and participate in the Audubon Society’s longest-running wintertime tradition, the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The Carleton Place CBC will be held this year on Tuesday, December 27th and it is sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) and coordinated in Canada by Bird Studies Canada. The count area is a 24 km circle centered on the bridge over the Mississippi River in Carleton Place, and includes Almonte, Appleton and Ashton. Details for Christmas Bird Counts can be found on the Audubon website.
Thousands of individuals participate in counts throughout the Americas and beyond between December 14, 2016 and January 5, 2017. “Each CBC volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation.” Bird Studies Canada and our partners at the National Audubon Society in the United States rely on data from the CBC database to monitor bird populations. Last year, during the 2015 Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count over 60 volunteers spent the day observing birds resulting in the recording of over 6700 birds and 46 different species.
The CBC tradition began over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by scientist and writer Frank Chapman, changed the course of ornithological history. On Christmas Day in 1900, the small group posed an alternative to the ‘side hunt,’ a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals. Instead, Chapman proposed that they identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the world’s most significant citizen-based conservation effort. The first Audubon bird count in Carleton Place took place in 1944.
Volunteers are essential to the success of the CBC. You don’t need to be an expert but it helps to be familiar with local bird species. In any case, participants in the field counts will be placed in a team led by an experienced birder and everyone is welcome. You will need a pair of binoculars. As well residents with bird feeders within a count area can help by listing all birds at your feeder or in your yard on the count day.
For more information or to register for the Carleton Place CBC on December 27th, please contact Iain Wilkes at If you are interested in helping out by counting birds at your feeder/yard, please register with Georgina Doe at 613- 257-2103. At the end of the Carleton Place count day, field participants return to the Community Room upstairs at Mitchell’s Independent in Carleton Place on McNeely Avenue for the count-in as well as refreshments.