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.