The Vermilion River Naturalist Society will be holding the annual Christmas Bird Count in Vermilion on December 14. 

The society will be counting birds in a 24-kilometre diameter circle around the town. Coordinator Iris Davies says they will be travelling down back roads and if they see a bird feeder in someone’s yard they may come up and ask what kind of birds they’ve seen.

“It’s always been a social thing. We get together afterwards and one member hosts a potluck supper then we compile the results and find out what everybody saw during the day.”

Over 2,500 groups across the Western Hemisphere take part in the Christmas Bird Count during the month of December. At the end of the count, all the information is collected and sent to Birds Canada and the National Audubon Society. The National Audubon Society has been collecting information from the counts for over 100 years and uses it to track the birds.

“It’s a way of surveying birds and to see what’s around at that time of year. Seeing as they’ve been continuous for that length of time, they’ve been able to follow the trends of the number of birds and different types of birds that show up.” 

Davies says they have seen some birds that are not native to Alberta in the past few years including Eurasian collared doves.

“There are a couple of species of bird that you would have never have seen a few years ago. Last year there was a great blue heron that we saw. There was some open water and for some reason, he was still hanging around.”

The Naturalist Society takes groups out to see snakes coming out of hibernation and also does a species count in May, where they count all the different wild animals in the area.

Davies says volunteers are welcome to help with the count and can be paired with more experienced birders to guide them through the count. People interested can contact Davies at 780-847-2677.