Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI) is once again hosting the Audubon Society's annual Christmas bird count, which is celebrating its 121st year.
The 2020 event will take place in North Queens on December 20. Research groups across North and South America use the results each year.
"It helps to track population and the trends for the birds each year," explained MTRI's Nicole Hubley. "It's the sort of thing that tells them whether or not a population of a certain species goes up or down each year and what kind of species are where."
Staff at MTRI have been compilers for the North Queens area for several years. They take in pre-registrations and have a map to orchestrate where bird counters should go so as not to overlap. They also take in the final numbers and send them to the Audubon Society for its database.
Based in the U.S., the Audubon Society aims to protect birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation.
Hubley said the public turnout at the count each year has been favourable, with 94 bird enthusiasts participating in the past.
Referring to 2017, the last year at which she looked, Hubley said volunteers counted 832 birds in just over 51 hours. A total of 50 kilometres was covered by foot and 143 kilometres by car.
There were around 30 species identified that year with a wide range of sightings, from one grey catbird to 111 American Gold Finches.
To take part in this year's count, public members are asked to pre-register with MTRI, then walk, run, jog, drive or just sit, observe and record in their assigned areas. Results are then submitted to MTRI.