A great-blue heron is the most unusual bird species encountered during a Christmas Bird Count in Smithers.

A great-blue heron is the most unusual bird species encountered during a Christmas Bird Count in Smithers.

Preparations underway for Christmas Bird count

Good weather or not, local bird enthusiasts are set to mark the 113th annual Christmas Bird Count, slated for Dec. 27, 2012.

As the song goes, the weather outside might be frightful, but nonetheless many of our feathered friends are hanging around trying to eke out an existence.

Good weather or not, local bird enthusiasts are set to mark the 113th annual Christmas Bird Count, slated for Dec. 27, 2012.

Leading the flock in Smithers is Rosamund Pojar who took the lead in 1979.

Every year more than 11,500 Canadians take time out around Christmas time to count the birds in their area.

The yearly winter bird count was the brainchild of American ornithologist Frank M. Chapman.

That first count, led by Chapman, was conducted by 27 volunteers in 25 areas including Scotch Lake, York County, New Brunswick and Toronto, Ont., according to the Audubon Society.

The Christmas Bird Count provides Bird Studies Canada and other agencies with valuable information regarding the health of bird populations across North and Central America as well as the Caribbean.

For Pojar, the Christmas Bird Count also provides an opportunity to get out and view birds, an interest that came to her quite by accident as she and her husband put in the crawl space for an addition to their house.

“When we finished digging the hole, it began to rain and it filled with water,” Pojar began.

“Next thing you know birds were coming in from everywhere.

“I saw all of these birds close up and I was hooked.

“It’s sort of like an addiction, once you can recognize a few of them, then you get all excited about it.”

In the more than 30 years Pojar has taken part in the Smithers Christmas Bird count, participants have observed upwards

of 2,000 individual birds each year, representing about 40 species, the most unusual being a great-blue heron found in some open water along the shore of Lake Kathlyn.

“You wouldn’t expect a great blue heron if everything was frozen over,” Pojar said.

Taking part in the bird count is as easy as contacting Pojar to register.  Pojar will then assign participants a transect or area to cover within a 24-km radius of the Central Park Building.

Experienced and novice bird enthusiasts of any age are welcome to participate, Pojar said.

Anyone interested in taking part in the Smithers portion of the Christmas Bird Count can contact Pojar at 250-847-9429, or e-mail: rpojar@gmail.com.