Friday, 26 January 2018

2nd Annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids - 2018

26 January 2018

     Having inaugurated the Christmas Bird Count for Kids last year we were happy to do it again this year. 
     Our initial plans had to be scrapped due to severely cold weather and it was reorganized for today. Friday is not an ideal day for parents and children but it was a PD day at local schools so we gave it a go. The attendance was smaller than last year, but several enthusiastic children and their parents came out to count birds and learn about nature. It was a pleasure, as always to be involved with the children of today, the naturalists of tomorrow.
     In addition to several members of the staff at the rare Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge where the event was held, I was happy to be joined by my good friend Fraser Gibson, as fine an all round naturalist as you could ever wish to meet, and a sterling fellow to boot.

     We started at the feeders behind the Eco Centre where the presence of lots of birds gave the children a fine start before setting out to walk some of the trails. The adults were engaged too!

     As might be expected the species at the feeders were common birds, but numerous, with much coming and going, providing great enjoyment for everyone.
     It was an ideal spot to contrast the plumages of male and female House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus), with everyone especially appreciating the deep wine red of the males.

     Several Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura) seemed to be content to rest in the trees, perhaps waiting for the other species to knock down enough seed onto the ground before descending to feed.

     This one looked like it was taking a snooze.

     White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) gave a textbook display of its head-down feeding strategy.

     Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) snagged seed from the feeders to carry them away to a branch where they hammered them open, holding the seed in their feet. It is safe to say that everyone loves a chickadee!

     It was a perfect winter's day, with the temperature hovering near the freezing mark, and we all enjoyed walking the trails.

     Several times we heard the distinctive chip note of Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) and with a little patience were rewarded with excellent views of this beautiful bird.

     Back at the Eco Centre we all gathered to compare notes and enjoy coffee and hot chocolate.

     The children wrote their sightings on a list, each team taking pride in the birds they had observed and learned about.

     As mentioned earlier the number of children taking part was down from last year, but this did not detract from the enjoyment of the day. I have no doubt that we are all looking forward to the 3rd annual CBC for Kids to take place next year.
     Kudos to Jenna Quinn, Emily Leslie and Marg Paré for the work they did to bring this event to fruition. It was my pleasure to take part.

All species: Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Trumpeter or Tundra Swan, Mallard, Common Goldeneye, Gull sp., Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, American Goldfinch.    Total: 17.


  1. Hari OM
    Great fun!!! It was with school young ornithologists club that my love affair with bird watching began. Well done all. YAM xx

  2. What a wonderful idea! I worry that the children of today are being absorbed by technology so this is indeed a grand thing to do.

  3. Pleasing to read that children can go along and be guided in watching the birds, I bet they enjoyed it. Hopefully next time there will be more children.

  4. I’m sure the children had a great time watching and hearing the birds David!
    Beautiful pictures of those beautiful birds and lovely winter scenery!
    Enjoy your weekend!

  5. Hi David.

    You have beautiful birds in the picture.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  6. The kids are well educated, they seem to enjoy themselves.

  7. How wonderful your world is, dear friend, to come and visit you here always put me in such high spirits, thank you!

    Sending my dearest hug across the miles,
    with heartfelt gratitude

    XOXO Dany

  8. What a nice thing to do! It seems like everyone are having a good time. Thank you for using the latin names, because then I can google them. Sitta europaea who lives here is very similar to carolinensis.

  9. very inspiring, it is very important we pass on our passion for nature to the next generation.

  10. Buen reportaje amigo mío, también me encanta la nueva foto de cabecera del blog, es extraordinaria. Un fuerte abrazo desde España y todo lo mejor!!!

  11. Love the new seabird header David...........

  12. Hi David,
    this is a very nice initiative, making the children aware of nature.

    Best regards, Corrie

  13. Hello, the Christmas count is a great way to have the children interested in birding and nature. Lovely shots of the birds and the young birders. Enjoy your day and weekend.

  14. Hi Davd, you did a good job taking the children out and let them count and see birds. Nice initiative. We do have sort of the same here locally, once a year and I alwyas like the ooohs and aaaahhhs when they can have a look in the telescope.
    This weekend is Dutch gardenbirds counting weekend, so hope to see some tomorrow :-).

    Kind regards,

    1. Good luck with your count, Marianne. I hope you will publish your list on your blog.

  15. So many wonderful sightings and photos!
    I hope to do my first CBC next year. My first bird count ever actually. I think I will do the Glacier National Park one.

    1. I have done the adult count for so many years I can’t remember, but it’s only for two years we have done it for the children.

  16. Looks like a fun outing and some beautiful birds were spotted.

  17. It's a great piece of work you and colleagues do David. Especially so in the depth of your winter. Quite how you drage kids away from the TV and/or their Ipad I don't know. Below is an interesting if inconclusive read.

    1. Thanks for sending this link, Phil. It's both an interesting article and also interesting that this field of research is going on.

  18. Hello David, Great birding with the children and the weather was great to see in your captures. Blue skies and Sunshine. That makes so much difference.

  19. It's a great idea !! I am sure that the children had a great time to watch and photograph birds!
    Greetings !


  20. A very interesting event for today children to get closer and knowing their natural environment, something increasingly difficult in this time of so much technology and virtual reality. It was only a few decades ago that it was so common for children to play outdoors and enjoy nature, every time you can see less.
    The amount of species was not much but surely it was a good number for children to get to know their feathered neighbors

    1. It's not a bad total for a winter's day with children and we were only out for about an hour and a half.

  21. I woould like to go birdwatching one day.
    I do see the occasional cardinal in my backyard, blue jays (sporadically as well) and lots of robins in the parks.
    : )

  22. That is a beautiful thing to do. It’s a joy these days to see kids doing anything at all that doesn’t involve electronics ... and especially when it nourishes a love of the natural world.

  23. Hi David,
    It was a good initiative to give the parents and their children a chance to get to know more about nature. As far as I can judge it they have seen a lot of interesting birds, most of them I have never seen.
    Greetings, Kees

  24. You had very nice types for your lens David again.
    Beautiful color also the Northern Cardinal, which I do not see here.
    Greetings Tinie

  25. Hi David,
    What a wonderful time the children obviously had learning that bit more about nature, stopped them being on smart phones or i pads, also seeing some super birds and listing them.
    Well done to you and your friends.
    All the best, John