Nathanael Gaynor looks through a spotting-scope at a colour of a bald eagle’s eyes as his sister, Joy, waits for her turn. (Contributed)

Nathanael Gaynor looks through a spotting-scope at a colour of a bald eagle’s eyes as his sister, Joy, waits for her turn. (Contributed)

Eagle-eyed youth conduct rewarding bird count along Salmon Arm Foreshore Trail

Kids spot 17 species during outing hosted by NatureKids Salmon Arm

By John G. Woods

Special to the Observer

Across Canada, groups of children and their parents joined local naturalist leaders over the Christmas season to count birds.

Most people know of the adult version of the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) that has become a seasonal tradition in Canada. CBC4Kids is similar, but with a focus to help children learn about birds as they enjoy a few hours exploring nature in their home communities.

Our local NatureKids club (formerly Young Naturalists Club) explored the Foreshore Trail in Salmon Arm on December 11. With the encouragement of program leader Molly Cooperman and local biologist John Woods, the children quickly proved they had sharp eyes and sharp ears. In no time at all, they were recognizing song sparrows by their calls and identifying male and female mallards.

One of the best sightings of the count was a group of three golden-crowned kinglets. These tiny little birds are hard to see in the bushes and many adults can’t hear their very high-pitched calls. No problem for the kids, they soon heard and spotted three kinglets and added them to count tally.

The kids particularly liked looking through a spotting-scope that gave them a close look at a perched adult bald eagle. Through the scope they were able to see the eagle wasn’t bald (it had white head feathers), that eagle eyes, legs and bills are yellow, and that the eagle’s body that first looked black, was really a very dark chocolate colour with hints of reddish-brown.

The final tally was 17 species and 271 individual birds on a two-and-a-half-hour hike covering about three kilometres. Results from the count were entered into eBird, a citizen science database that tracks bird observations world-wide.

Salmon Arm NatureKids Club events are free and last two or three hours. Families wanting to join the club should contact Cooperman at or find them on Facebook.

Read more: Sharing insights from 50 years of counting birds in Salmon Arm

Read more: Waterfowl most prominent in Salmon Arm bird count
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