PEI

'Nice rarities' found during first of P.E.I.'s Christmas bird counts

P.E.I.'s annual Christmas bird count has so far recorded 40 species of birds in the Island's National Park, with some "nice rarities" including some Northern Pintail and a Lesser Scaup.

P.E.I. National Park Christmas Bird Count first of 4 on the Island

Sharon Clark was one of the volunteers who braved Sunday's wind and rain to count birds, including this magnificent bald eagle, in P.E.I. National Park. (Submitted by Sharon Clark)

P.E.I.'s annual Christmas bird count has so far recorded 40 species of birds in the Island's National Park, with some "nice rarities" including some Northern Pintail and a Lesser Scaup.

The Christmas bird count is North America's longest-running citizen science project, with counts in more than 2,000 localities throughout the western hemisphere, according to the website birdscanada.org. 

"We've had up over 50 species in some years, and we've been into the high 20s in other years, depending on weather conditions," said count organizer Dan MacAskill. 

The count takes in a circle 24 kilometres wide, from the Hillsborough River near Scotchfort west to Rustico Island in the National Park. 

MacAskill expects more species will be added this year as reports come in from feeders

40 years and counting

"It provides critical information on over-wintering birds throughout North America," he said. "We've had over 40 years of counts on P.E.I."

Most blue jays live on P.E.I. year-round. (Submitted by Paul Gauthier)

Looking back, MacAskill said, the count can reveal when certain species began staying on P.E.I. during the winter or expanding their ranges.

The information is entered into a database so researchers and others can track trends.

There are three more upcoming P.E.I. bird counts: Souris to East Point on December 26, Hillsborough (from Point Prim to Rocky Point) December 27 and Montague on December 31. More information is available on Nature PEI's website

With files from Krystalle Ramlakhan