Bird enthusiasts will be cruising the roads and the bush around Iroquois Falls this coming Saturday, for the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Co-ordinator Rhonda Donley hopes to have more than the 17 volunteers who showed up last year, and counted 19 different bird species.

She says the bird census takers spread out from Iroquois Falls.

“The centre point for the survey is the Meadow Creek bridge,” Donley says, “and it’s a 24-kilometre radius around that point.  Most of Monteith, all of Porquis Junction, all of the town of Iroquois Falls, Nellie Lake, Highway Beach, the Twin Falls dam.  That’s all part of the area.”

Rhonda Donley, co-ordinator of the Iroquois Falls Christmas bird count. Photo credit: Bob McIntyre, Moose FM

One big surprise last year was the white-crowned sparrow.  You can see them in thousands while they’re migrating south in the fall, but Donley says it’s rare this late in the year.

“In September, if you had little brown birds fly off the sidewalk as you were walking by, it was probably a white-capped sparrow.  By the end of October, they’re completely gone from this area, they’re much further south.  So it was a big surprise for us to get one in Iroquois Falls when it was minus-20 and lots of snow on the ground.”

“In fact,” Donley adds, “I am fairly certain that it had not been recorded ever on any of the other Christmas bird counts in this area.” She figures bird feeders were sustaining the little sparrow.

The Audubon Society in the U.S. has been doing Christmas bird counts for over 100 years, according to Donley. “In Canada, the partner is Bird Studies Canada.  They coordinate all of the Canadian counts and then share that information with the Audubon Society, who compiles it for all of North America.”

Volunteers for the Iroquois Falls count will gather at Tim Hortons at 8:00am Saturday.

You can get more details by following this link: www.facebook.com/groups/2197299420314470/