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  • Second annual Christmas Bird Count comparing what flew through Chestermere last year

    Second annual Christmas Bird Count comparing what flew through Chestermere last year pic 2

    The second annual Christmas Bird Count will give residents who participate a chance to see what’s flying through Chestermere this holiday season. Participants can watch and count the birds in their own backyards, go for a walk around the community, or drive between 84 St. southeast, Highway 564, Range Road 263, and Township Road 231 on Dec. 15. Photo submitted by Don Cassidy

    The second annual Christmas Bird Count will provide an ecological snapshot of the types of species flying through Chestermere on Dec. 15.

    Residents are encouraged to take a walk, go for a drive, or fill their bird feeders and sit and wait for the birds to come to them.

    “If a person has a few bird feeders out, it’s a great way to attract birds in the area, and sit back and watch,” said Organizer of the Christmas Bird Count Don Cassidy.

    “People can devote 15 minutes to it, look periodically at bird feeders throughout the day, and then take the highest count they see at one time,” Cassidy said.

    Adding, “Sometimes sitting back and waiting for the birds to come to you is the best.”

    Cassidy was inspired to have a second Christmas Bird Count to follow-up and compare what types of species pass through the community compared to last year.

    Cassidy is hopeful to see the Downey Wood Peckers, Nut Hatches, and blue jays this year, as he didn’t have high numbers last year.

    “I’ve been keeping my eye out for what’s here, and some of the more attractive winter species,” Cassidy said.

    Adding, “My interest is in the more exotic species in an urban setting that I can find in places along the Bow River easily, but it’s also a pleasant surprise to see them out on our tree.”

    Although the fundamentals and the geological area of the Christmas Bird Count haven’t changed from last year, Cassidy decided to host the event earlier in the month.

    “The population of birds wouldn’t have changed much within that time. Most of what migrates, already have,” Cassidy said.

    The Christmas Bird Count showcases the trends in bird population and provides an ecological snapshot for bird watchers of what’s happening in the world.

    “Essentially, most of the global bird species populations have dropped quite dramatically in the last 50 years,” Cassidy said.

    “Part of it is connected with the loss of food. There seems to be a relationship that the number of insects for birds to eat are declining,” Cassidy added. “There’s a national concern, and bird populations are a pretty good indicator of what’s happening.”

    Although some bird species have declined, others have increased within the last two decades, such as hawks.

    “The advantage of monitoring birds is you get a bigger global picture,” Cassidy said.

    “The health of the planet is always tied to the number of species on the planet, birds are a pretty good indicator of how things are,” he said 

    Adding, “The Christmas Bird Count will provide a snapshot of what’s going on and will make people more aware of what’s out there.”

    Cassidy has always been drawn to the outdoors and has fished for many years. However, bird watching has always been a lifelong interest for him.

    “It was a lifelong interest, more generally. The first bird that caught my eye, I was about 11-years-old, but now was time to actually pursue it,” Cassidy said. 

    “The part I like is that there is no harm done. It’s just an appreciation for what’s alive,” Cassidy said.

    After Cassidy retired from teaching three years ag, he bought a camera and began walking through the woods looking for different species to photograph and admire.

    Soon after, Cassidy’s wife became interested in bird watching as well. 

    “She’s my sidekick,” Cassidy said. 

    For more information or to participate in the Christmas Bird Count, please email Don Cassidy at cassidyd@telus.net. 

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