As volunteer bird counters formed themselves into teams over early-morning coffee at a local restaurant on Saturday (Dec. 28), one of the organizers, John Gordon, had a request
“If anyone sees a snow owl, let us know,” Gordon said.
He was referring to an especially rare species of bird that had been spotted, and photographed, during a previous count.
READ MORE: Rare bird spotted in Langley
Snowy owls usually make their homes north of 60° latitude in the Arctic tundra, in Alaska, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Eurasia, but one somehow made ts way south to Langley.
This year, there were no such exotic species to be seen, but there were a lot more of every other kind, thanks to the drier weather.
Organizer Mike Klotz said just over 7,800 birds were observed and 65 species tallies, up from the previous year’s rain-soaked survey, when just under 5,200 birds were counted and only 52 species, well below the average of 6,000 to 7,000.
“A pretty decent year,” is how Klotz summed it up to the Langley Advance Times.
The count is an early-winter bird census by the National Audubon Society, conducted with the help of more than 70,000 volunteers across Canada, the U.S. and many other countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Information collected by participants over the past century are one of only two large pools of data about how birds of the Americas are faring over time.
Christmas bird counts in the Lower Mainland are each conducted on a single day between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.
Each one is organized by a birding club or naturalist organization.
In Langley, the count is part of the larger White Rock/Surrey/Langley count.
More photos from the Langley count can be viewed online.