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Thursday December 13th, 2012

Posted at 11:00am

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Leia, who is just three years old can tweet like a blue jay or hoot like an owl, so this year she will join the regulars for the Christmas Bird Counts, a yearly Windsor-Essex tradition.

Every year avid bird watchers sign up for one or all five of the bird counts offered. The New Year’s Day Detroit River Bird Count begins at 8am at Ojibway Nature Centre when volunteers fan out into west Windsor, a good habitat for birds.

The Christmas Bird Count occurs between December 14th, 2012 and January 4th, 2013 across North American. A project of the Audubon Society, volunteers collect information that is used in scientific studies on wildlife and the environment. There are bird counts planned for Holiday Beach, Cedar Creek, Point Pelee, Lakeshore and the Detroit River.

The New Year’s Day Detroit River Bird Count begins at 8am at Ojibway Nature Centre when volunteers fan out into west Windsor, a good habitat for birds.

“We start early in the morning, sometimes before dawn and then meet around lunch to compare our sightings,” explains Paul Pratt, Naturalist at Ojibway Nature Centre.

During a good day, volunteers may see between 50-100 species of birds and thousands of individual birds. “One year, we saw about 20,000 Canvasbacks on the Detroit River,” explains Paul Pratt, “and that was only one species.” Mild weather is a benefit for both birds and bird watchers, so the bird watchers hope it continues.

This year, the bird counts have gone digital with the results being posted online. As a result, there is no fee for volunteers to join. Approximately 12,000 volunteers are expected in Canada and 60,000 volunteers continent-wide.

Last year’s count shattered records in Canada. A total of 412 counts involving over 12,000 participants tallied 3.9 million birds of 303 species.

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