The History of the Migration Count in Nova Scotia and Kings County

Background of the North American Migration Count (NAMC) which is now the N.S. Migration Count

What is the Migration Count all about? Well it all began back in 1992 in Maryland when Jim Stasz of North Beach, wanted to expand the geographic range of the avian data collected on migrating neo-tropical birds by the Maryland Spring Bird Counts held annually on the second Saturday of May. Initially the plan was to broaden the data to include adjoining states, but somehow through an error QUERIES about this PROJECT expansion went further afield and interest grew in various directions including articles in various prominent birding journals with requests for participants to send in counts. Birders heeded the call and thus the project began in real earnest spreading up and down the continent, and Canada also became involved when Judy Tufts sent in some data from Kings County, N.S. Nova Scotia BECAME really involved in 1993 when we were among three Canadian provinces who ORGANIZED “county” efforts. By this time 43 states in the USA were also active in the project – I doubt that Jim Stasz had quite anticipated so much interest to be generated in such a short span of time!!!

Bev Sarty began the project officially as NS’s first and very accomplished coordinator in 1993, setting up a very fine network of contacts around the province. After two years in this position she retired and in 1995 Judy Tufts took over, expanding the provincial coverage to include seventeen of the Nova Scotian counties for the Spring count (only Victoria Co. was not represented). A great deal of enthusiasm had been generated in helping this collection of much needed data FOR the continent of North America. Also in 1995 a second ‘bird’ count was added on the third Saturday of September by the NAMC committee in Maryland, thus complimenting the Christmas Bird Counts (C.B.C.), and the Breeding Bird Survey (B.B.S.) in June. The Spring count will tell us how many birds are returning from wintering grounds, BBS will locate main nesting areas, the Fall COUNT would measure reproductive success and CBCs measure winter population. It was hoped to keep the two NAMC counts going annually in NS but after two years the ‘Fall’ Count no longer became feasible and NS reverted back to just one – the major ‘Spring’ Count.

Why is this ‘Migratory Count’ held in the spring? Well it comes down to the importance of THE data collected. One of the main things it will do is to provide information on the abundance and distribution of each species of birds, especially those migrating. Some of the answers scientists and ornithologists seek include the direction and ‘paths’ neo-tropical birds take as they migrate north or southwards on their migration journeys; do species make a series of short ‘hops’ along a predictable route, or move in a solid front, northwards, leaving a few behind to occupy territories?; do others travel like shorebirds flying longer distances between essential feeding ‘stopovers’? Maybe through our active participation we will also help the biologists and ornithologists understand migration ‘problems’, i.e. results of LOSS of appropriate habitat – meaning loss of food, suitable breeding areas and cover-protection from predators.

The North American Migration Count is an event not affiliated with any organization. Partners in Flight, The American Birding Assoc., and numerous state, provincial and local birding clubs provide support by increasing awareness of this activity. The NAMC collects no dues. One cannot join, only participate. THERE ARE NO FEES. One may participate as a ‘counter’ in the field in a specific area assigned by your County coordinator or as a feederwatcher at your own home. Each year come rain or shine the Spring count takes place on the second Saturday of May. Make this a day to have an excuse to be outdoors having fun while counting the birds!