Bird enthusiasts had their eyes to the sky on Sunday to tally wild birds in Fort McMurray.
It’s for the annual Christmas Bird Count, where volunteers measure a 12 km radius from the downtown to look at how birds in the region are doing.
Organizer Christine Godwin tells Mix News they saw a lot of species they’ve encountered in the past including, Pine grosbeaks, Redpolls and lots of Woodpeckers.
“Even though the fire moved through in the spring, and I think everybody is really curious what impact the fire had on the birds in the region, but I think many of the birds have done just fine and we’re seeing the same species we have in the past.”
As far as numbers go, Godwin says that is something that would have to be looked at on a broader scale by a group like Bird Studies Canada, which can see what’s happening across Canada and North America. But, she says given the extent of the fire it’s possible to see a dip in numbers, but they’re not seeing that as of yet.
This is just one of many bird counts that take place across North America every year to help track how the species are moving with climate change and determine trends.
Meanwhile, Godwin says she received a report of a rare White-winged Dove in Gregoire just over a week ago.
“This bird is not normally found in Alberta, it’s found much further south in the US. But it is making its way north and has occurred in Alberta a couple of times in the past, but in southern Alberta and usually in the summer. So, to have this bird up in this area in winter is really, really rare.”
Godwin says there’s no logical reason as to how the bird wound up here.
“Birds are moving with the changes in climate and occasionally they do go off course and you’ll get individuals of their species showing up in very strange places. And occasionally they do hitch rides on transport vehicles or containers.”
She adds they hope the dove will survive over the winter.
– Photo courtesy of Bird Studies Canada website