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The bird census of Christmas, a gift for ornithologists and scientists

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Doctoral student and ornithologist Peter Soroye shared this photo of a cardinal for an article in 2021. Ornithologists have been seeing more cardinals in eastern Ontario and the annual Christmas Bird Count is one way to find them follow. (Archive photo)

Radio-Canada

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The year is 1919. The Center Block on Parliament Hill is being rebuilt after the infamous fire three years earlier, the Ottawa Senators are beginning their journey to a Cup victory Stanley against the Seattle Metropolitans, and a half-dozen people gather for Ottawa's first Christmas bird count.

A century later, both cities have lost and regained their professional hockey teams, the Center Block is under construction and the annual bird count is set to return Sunday for the 105th time in the capital.

For Bernie Ladouceur, this will be a 52nd participation.

When I was a child, I was very interested in dinosaurs, planets and African mammals, and it was difficult to find them in Ottawa, said the member from the Ottawa Naturalists Club on the Ottawa Morning radio showfrom CBC. But on the other hand, there were insects and birds all around.

These counts are done in North America and South America, the first which took place in 1900.

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Coordinators such as Mr. Ladouceur send volunteers to disperse in a circle at on a given date, note the birds they see and communicate this information to the organizers to obtain a census of those observed and the places where they are found.

Birders who participate in the count each year view it as a fun excuse to go bird watching for a day and hang out with friends, but the data is also very important, said Mike Burrell, regional bird count editor for the x27;Ontario, on the radio show Ontario Morning from CBC Tuesday. They are used by governments and bird conservationists to monitor the evolution of populations. We have an extraordinary data set to study any changes.

A rare bird [VIDEO] [2019]

About 150 observers counted 30,000 American crows in the 12 kilometers surrounding Parliament Hill, for example, one of 40 such circles in eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

By hand or using an app, they recorded three great blue herons and three grebes – two horned, one red-necked – in the circle including Heron Road and the Glebe.

The sighting of a yellow-throated warbler in Rideau Lakes, Ontario, was mentioned in the national report. This is a rare phenomenon for this migratory bird at this time of year.

As for broader provincial trends, Burrell says winter weather started later and waterfowl stayed around longer.

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Bernie Ladouceur looks through his binoculars at Mud Lake on December 12, 2023, a few days before the 2023 edition of the Bird Count

If you think you're seeing more Canada geese in central Ottawa, Ladouceur says the data backs it up.

Mr. Burrell also noted that loss of forest cover and grasslands reduces habitat and sightings of ruffed grouse and American kestrels.

Interested people can check with Birds Canada to see if there is a count near them.

Birdwatchers budding can share their observations from their own backyard, Mr. Burrell added, while Mr. Ladouceur says they can also be paired with a more experienced person.

This year in Canada, bird counts began on Thursday and continue until January 5.

With information fromAndrew FooteofCBC News

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