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Spotting of rare bird 'a treat'

A female mountain bluebird spotted on the Semiahmoo Spit in Blaine marks the thrush
A female mountain bluebird spotted on the Semiahmoo Spit in Blaine marks the thrush's first appearance in the local Christmas Bird Count.
— image credit: Douglas L. Brown photo

Viveka Ohman is willing to wait, if that’s what it takes to spot a glimpse of a mountain bluebird – but she’s hoping she won’t have to.

One of the tiny thrushes found its way onto the local-area record books of the Christmas Bird Count for the first time this year, when a female of the species was seen in Blaine, Wash.

“I would sit and wait an hour to see these guys,” Ohman, co-ordinator of the local effort, said last Tuesday. “Hopefully, I don’t have to wait that long.

“If you can get the exact location of the bird and if you’re patient and wait there, you can kind of pitch them out – make a funny sound and they’ll pop out. They’re quite curious by nature.”

The bluebird was among 126 species logged by volunteers Dec. 29, when they scoured a ‘count circle’ 24 kilometres in diametre looking for all manner of feathered friends.

The results – tabulated annually and combined with those from more than 2,100 other count circles across the Americas – help researchers and conservationists track the health and trends of the various bird populations.

It’s an effort that began in the early 1900s.

The local circle covers all of the Semiahmoo Peninsula, stretches to Port Kells and Fleetwood, drops down to Blaine and goes east to 232 Avenue.

Ohman said the actual number of birds logged won’t be finalized for a couple of weeks, as results continue to come in.

Other highlights of the day included a flock of western meadowlarks, large numbers of varied thrushes, a Harris’ sparrow and a large number of Anna’s hummingbirds.

Ohman said not so long ago, count participants would be lucky to add even one of the hummingbirds to their records. Their numbers are increasing due to an increase in people feeding them in the wintertime, she said.

Ohman described the bird count as a highlight of the Christmas season.

“You recognize that there’s other little beings out there,” she said.

"It's a treat."

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