Bird enthusiasts had their eyes to the sky to tally wild birds in Fort McMurray.
Every May, over a two-day span, volunteers count the number of birds and species they see to better understand changes to population and bird migration.
In total, 4,423 birds were spotted over the weekend, down from the total in 2015, when they saw 6,135 birds. There was no spring count in 2016 due to the wildfire but they were still able to do their annual Christmas count.
However, wildlife biologist and coordinator for the count Christine Godwin tells Mix News these totals were still some nice surprises.
“I think the surprise was the number of species overall given the extent of the wildfire.”
These bird watchers were able to spot 131 different species, up from 126 in 2015.
“The ones that stood out this year, there was a lark sparrow, tundra swan that was spotted, American bitterns are always exciting to see. These species are unique to the region this time of year.”
Godwin notes many of the species found are common in the region but adds it was a still a surprise to see the increase after the wildfire.