The diversity of bird species in Kamloops is down, according to last month’s annual avian count, and a local bird expert is not sure why.
The 41st annual Christmas bird count was held on Dec. 22, during which volunteers spotted more than 10,000 birds representing 58 species — about 20 per cent lower than average, according to Rick Howie.
“It was below average quite a bit,” he said, noting the total number of birds tallied was 10,669.
“I’m not sure why, but we had 58 species. We should be up in the mid-70s. The total number of birds is a little below where we should have been, but our diversity of species was quite a bit different this year.”
Thirty-five volunteers took part in the count, split up into 12 teams.
Howie said there were a few surprises found, including a snow goose, a great grey owl and a cackling goose.
“The snow goose is very scarce in this area and the great grey owl is a resident species but it’s so seldom seen,” he said. “The cackling goose, it looks like a small Canada goose, it’s more of a coastal species. It’s scarce here.”
The Christmas bird count is an international initiative run by the National Audubon Society of the U.S., and is regarded as the longest-run volunteer science survey in the world.
Counts take place in countries in North and South America.
Howie said he is not too concerned about the low species count, despite it being the lowest ever tallied locally.
“I’d expect about 15 species more than what we had, for whatever reason,” he said.
“It’s one of those dips in the cycle. We’ll just have to boost it up next year.”