It’s the oldest citizen science project in the world, and Victoria’s birding community has flocked to the front lines.
“On December 16th we counted, and I’m still tweaking the numbers,” says Ann Nightingale, coordinator of the Victoria Christmas Bird Count. “It looks like about 85,000 birds in the 15 mile circle that is the Victoria Christmas Bird Count.”
Bird counts have been happening all over the world since 1900, and with more than 300 people taking part, Victoria has the highest field participation of any bird count in the world. Of note this year was some species not normally seen in late December.
“We were lucky enough to get two species we’ve never had before,” says Nightingale. “Both were at Ross Bay Cemetery. We had a white breasted nuthatch and a pygmy nuthatch along with our regularly occurring red breasted nuthatch.”
This year’s numbers ALSO showed an uptick in hummingbirds.
“We’ll have just under 1,400 when the dust settles,” says Nightingale.
She warns that people should not replace their white sugar with brown sugar in their feeders, in light of the scarcity of the product due to the Rogers Sugar strike.
“It has a much higher concentration of iron than the birds should be getting,” she says.
Nightingale adds that the substituted sweeteners may dangerous for hummingbirds, and adds that some grocery stores keep extra white sugar in the back for this very purpose.
“Just ask for it and quite often they’ll get it for you.”