Avid birders from across P.E.I. are now taking part in the annual national Christmas Bird Count.

From Dec. 14 to Jan. 5, volunteers will roam through wooded areas on P.E.I. to count the species and number of birds in certain 24-kilometre areas across the province.

There are dozens of counts across the Maritimes with three official areas in P.E.I. — each count helps scientists and researchers learn more about wildlife in areas across Canada year over year. 

'It's just a great way to share nature, it's one of the things I encourage my students to take part in as well.' Dwaine Oakley

Dwaine Oakley, a teacher at Holland College and co-ordinator of the East Point Bird Count, has been birding for more than 20 years and is looking for more avid birders to join the bird count in eastern P.E.I.

"It's P.E.I.'s smallest bird count, in as far as participants," he said.

"We're lucky if we get 12 hearty souls that'll come out and risk the coastal areas in the eastern portion of P.E.I. looking for species."

'We'd love to find as many species as possible'

Oakley said all are welcome to go to the bird count. However, if you're not willing to tackle the winter weather, he added, people in the 24-kilometre area can always peek out their windows and count the visitors to their bird feeders.

Those who do join the bird count should expect to see species such as harlequin ducks, snowy owls, winter finches and bohemian waxwings colouring the skies and cost of P.E.I., said Oakley. 

Bohemian waxwings

Bohemian waxwings are another species Oakley would love to see flying over eastern P.E.I. this holiday season. (David Komljenovic)

One of the greatest draws to birding, he said, is getting together with volunteers he rarely sees outside of the yearly bird count. 

"It's just a great way to share nature. It's one of the things I encourage my students to take part in as well," Oakley said.

"We just get out there and enjoy whatever day is given to us and we'd love to find as many species as possible."

For more information on the annual bird counts and how to take part, you can visit the Bird Studies Canada website or visit their Facebook page.

With files from John Robertson