by Cliff Bennett

I am pleased to enter this first report on my suggestion of getting you young kids outside counting birds. With no schools open during this nasty pandemic, you have a great opportunity, guided by your parents or caregivers, to make a useful citizen science effort by counting birds. Not only do you have your backyards and neighbourhoods to scan for birds but there are the parks, trails, country roads and the Almonte lagoon to cover.  Your observations are important for science. Besides, you are learning about nature and maybe developing a new hobby.

Ring-billed gull (Brent Eades photo)

My first report received, came from 5 yr. old Adrian Williams, who lives somewhere in the Gale subdivision.  The report covers seven days of birding with his caregiver and took place not only in his neighbourhood but around the fairgrounds and also The Almonte Lagoon. Adrian tallied an incredible 437 birds from fourteen different species. They were red-winged blackbirds (3); cardinal (1); Chickadee (1); mourning dove (9); American goldfinch (6); Canada Goose (300+); grackle (76); ring-billed gull (1); hawk (unidentified) (3); blue jay (1); robin (18), starling (3); and one woodpecker (unidentified).

Of course Adrian’s observations would include many repeats of the same birds but that is important for record-keeping. He has given me lots of work setting up record sheets. Now I am prepared to receive many observations from many kids.

Here’s a hint on how to record your observations when you are on each trip. List your species as you see them and, using the stick method, keep track of how many. List your observations in groups of fives such as 1111 11. That equals 7. Be sure to list the date and areas you are birding each time out. You will soon have your own valuable data in your notebook.

Just a note on Adrian’s gull. Almost all gulls we see around here are ring-billed gulls, named thus because they have a ring around their bill almost at the outer end. The only other gull I’ve seen around here is the herring gull. The herring gull is larger and much whiter. Did you know the gull family contains 82 different species around the world?

My thanks to Adrian Williams for starting off this programme. I hope to hear from many more of you kids. Just remember that, when you are birding, respect private property and keep your two metres social distancing from others people. You don’t want to add the nasty virus to your list and bring it home to other members in your house.

You can email me your reports at bennett@magma.ca.