Turkeys abound during annual Christmas Bird Count

Organizer Arnold By says 102 wild turkeys were observed, most of them in the Beaver Valley.

There was plenty of gobble gobble during this year’s Christmas Bird Count.

Organizer Arnold By says 102 wild turkeys were observed, most of them in the Beaver Valley.

The non-indigenous birds seem to be migrating north over the border, he speculated.

“My dad had a cabin out in the Pend D’Oreille before it was flooded,” By recalled. “They were never there, pretty sure they came up from the United States after that. And they brought their natural predator, the bobcats, with them at the same time.”

He paused for a moment, then added, “I find it kind of weird that we have a lot of turkeys here now, but I haven’t seen a bobcat in about four years – I am a little puzzled about why that is.”

Though the wild turkey drove increased this year, overall, the annual bird count was average, according to longtime observer Shirley Coffin.

Besides the usual ravens, geese, pigeons and mallards, Coffin noted a few standouts in her 70-kilometre circle that encompasses areas from Genelle south to the international border.

A red-naped sapsucker and winter wren were observed at a bird feeder in Casino; a pygmy owl and Eurasian doves in Beaver Valley; as well as downy and hairy woodpeckers near the Sunningdale water tower.

Birds are said to be the bellwethers of a nation’s natural and cultural health, and are indicators of the environment’s integrity.

As the health of the Columbia River improves, one species that has made a solid return to the area the last few years is Haliaeetus leucocephalus, otherwise known as the Bald Eagle.

Coffin noted seven eagles during her Dec. 19 count – three adults, three immature, and one unknown.

“I often see them from my house in Glenmerry,” she said. “Another good place is along the river toward Casino, or around the landfill. They are always around, sometimes you can see them flying up the river just looking for fish.”

The CBC (Christmas Bird Count) is a census of birds in the Western Hemisphere, performed annually in the winter by volunteer birdwatchers.

Administered by the National Audubon Society, the CBC is the longest-running Citizen Science survey in the world that provides population data for use in science, especially conservation biology.