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Calling all citizen scientists: Ontario's Christmas Bird Count kicks off on Saturday

Courtesy: Ontario Nature

Courtesy: Ontario Nature

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    Digital writers

    Friday, December 13, 2013, 4:42 PM -

    Since it was founded in 1900, the Christmas Bird Count has become an integral part of nature conservation and education efforts. The one-day "bird census" invites members of the public to snap photos of birds, and it's open to everyone -- regardless of skill or age.

    Dozens of bird counts are scheduled to take place across the province between December 14th and January 5th. The free event is a joint initiative between Ontario Nature and Bird Studies Canada.

    "Each citizen scientist who braves snow, wind and cold to take part in a count contributes to the study and conservation of birds," Ontario Nature writes in a press release.

    "Data collected are used to monitor the status of resident and migratory birds across the Western Hemisphere. The Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running wildlife census and a crucial part of Canada’s biodiversity monitoring database." 

    Last year, 4,200 people participated in 110 Christmas Bird Counts in Ontario. Together, they recorded 185 species and 1,516,553 individual birds.

    Colleen Cirillo, Communications Coordinator for Ontario Nature, says that citizen scientists play an important role in the study of nature.

    “I think citizen science is absolutely essential," she says.

    "At its best, it counters the cuts to environment-focused ministries and departments and society’s growing disinterest in and ignorance of the natural world.”

    As an added bonus, “the counts are fun," Cirillo adds.

    "You learn a lot from the veteran birders. Plus, [it] gets you out of the house and away from the Christmas cookies – which is always a good thing.”

    Visit Bird Studies Canada or Ontario Nature to find a bird count in your area.

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