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Spring Bird Count takes flight again

Use smartphones to count feathery friends
2105 EnviroFile SA GrackleOpera 8707 km
OPERATIC — A grackle pulls off a full-bodied “Zrrreeep!” at Beaumaris Lake near St. Albert on May 7, 2022. Edmonton-area birders will be out counting birds like this one May 28-29 as part of the Edmonton May Bird Count. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

St. Albert and Sturgeon County birders will dust off their binoculars this weekend to take part in the resurrection of the Edmonton May Bird Count.

The Edmonton Nature Club is calling on birders throughout St. Albert and Sturgeon County to count birds May 28 and 29 as part of its revived May Bird Count. The count is part of Nature Alberta’s larger May Species Count, which since 1976 has sought to count and categorize all flora and fauna in the province each year on the last weekend of May.

St. Albert birder Alan Hingston said Edmonton held a May bird count as part of the species count for many decades but stopped in the 1990s. New bird-tracker apps such as eBird have made it much easier to collate count data, reviving interest in doing bird counts.

The Edmonton Nature Club has revived the spring count to promote Edmonton as a bird-friendly city, said club president Brian Stephens, referring to a certification issued by Nature Canada.

“A lot of our birds are in trouble,” he said, and bird counts help researchers track trends and pressures on bird populations.

Stephens said this spring count will help capture the state of the roughly 80 per cent of Edmonton-area birds which migrate and don’t show up in Christmas bird counts.

The spring count is timed so as to miss the spring migration and any birds that are simply passing through this region, Stephens said. The count has traditionally taken place over an 80-kilometre-wide zone centred on Edmonton which extends to Westlock, Ryley, Maskwacis, and Seba Beach.

This year’s count will see birdwatchers spend at least 10 minutes spotting birds anywhere in this zone and logging their observations on eBird, Stephens said. Counters will share their checklists with the username YEGMSC2022 to add their results to the count.

Hingston predicted about 150 to 200 species will show up in the spring count — far more than the 40 or so usually seen here in winter.

“Just about all the bird species you’d expect should be present,” he said, including warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, blackbirds, and waterfowl.

Stephens said he hopes to have at least 100 people take part in the count.

Visit birdfriendlyedmonton.org/may-bird-count.html for details on the count.


Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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