If you’re feeling rather knowledgeable about birding and confident in identifying birds in your area, you may want to consider getting involved in your local Christmas Bird Count. 

What is the Christmas Bird Count?

Entering its 122nd season, the Christmas Bird Count started in 1900 and is North America’s longest-running Citizen Science project. It takes place over a single day within a BC community, where bird counts are carried out within a specified 24-km circle area. Depending on your region, it can take place any time between December 14th and January 5th. The counts are organized by local birders, birding clubs, or naturalist organizations and are usually a group effort.

If you’re interested in birds and their conservation, the Christmas Bird Count is very important to conservation research. The information collected turns into one of the world’s largest sets of wildlife survey data and the results are used by conservation biologists and naturalists to assess the population trends and distribution of birds. Monitoring birds in this way helps to shine spotlights on recent populations declines and potential consequences for ecosystems. It’s important work and birders are happy to help!

Photo by Martin L. Martens.

Where and When

Whether you’re a novice birder or a seasoned expert, please consider taking part in this year’s Christmas Bird Count effort. To join a group or community event, please reach out to your local count compiler – Birds Canada has a list of participating communities on their website.

As Birds Canada recommends, you should be prepared to dedicate part or all of the count day as either a field observer or feeder watcher somewhere within the count circle. Field observers cover a portion of the count circle on their own or with a small group and count all birds they find. Feeder watchers count birds at their feeders for a portion of the day.

Here is a list of communities along the BC Bird Trail that are having Christmas Bird Counts this year:

  • Central Vancouver Island
    • Deep Bay: December 15
    • Duncan: January 3
    • Ladysmith: December 19
    • Nanaimo: December 27
    • Nanoose Bay: December 17
    • Parksville Qualicum Beach: December 19
  • South Fraser & Fraser Valley
    • Abbotsford – Mission: December 30 (flooding dependent)
    • Chilliwack: December 18
    • Harrison River: December 14
    • Ladner: December 19
    • Pitt Meadows: January 1
    • Vancouver (including some of areas of Richmond): December 18
    • White Rock – Surrey – Langley: January 2
  • Columbia Valley
    • Cranbrook: December 26
    • Golden: December 26
    • Kimberley: January 2
    • Lake Windermere District (Invermere/Radium area): TBA

You can learn more about the Christmas Bird Count through Birds Canada. And check out The British Columbia Field Ornithologists’ website which also has a list for dates of local bird counts.

Learn more about citizen science and tips for counting birds in our previous Field Notes post, Birding 101: How to Count Birds.


Please keep safety your number one priority should you choose to participate in Citizen Science programs, and always follow your local health authority safety guidelines. Be aware of current provincial and regional restrictions from the Provincial Health Officer and keep up to date with emergency info regarding road conditions and more with EmergencyInfoBC.