109th annual holiday bird count runs to Jan. 9

In the coming week, thousands of expert and amateur birders will parti­cipate in the 109th annual Christmas bird count, a tradi­tion for naturalists across the continent.

This year, more than 40 Ontario Nature member groups are leading bird counts in com­mu­nities as far north as Thunder Bay and Sudbury, to Point Pelee and Holiday Beach in the south, and Kingston and Ottawa to the east.

There are several groups working in the Wellington County area. They are:

– Guelph Field Naturalists,                                   Guelph;

– Kitchener Waterloo Field Naturalists, Cambridge;

– Kitchener Waterloo Field Naturalists, in Kitchener;

– Kitchener Waterloo Field Naturalists, in Linwood; and

– Upper Credit Field Naturalists, in Caledon and Orange­ville.

The Christmas bird count started as the Christmas bird census, led by American orni­thologist Frank Chapman, as an alternative to the then-popular "side hunt" in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals as a Christmas day activity.

Chapman’s suggestion that birds be counted instead of shot changed the course of orni­tho­logical history with the found­ing of what is now considered to be the world’s most signi­ficant citizen science-based conservation effort.

Today, more than 2,000 individual counts are scheduled to take place throughout the Americas, and more than 100 counts will occur in Ontario alone.

For more information visit www.ontarionature.org.