The avifauna of Ukraine has 424 species of birds, of which more than 130 are hibernating. Diseases, climate change, and natural habitat destruction are the main causes of bird deaths. The forecasts are predicting a colder streak by the end of the month, so it would not be an easy time for birds. According to experts, 90 percent of tits perish in winters from hunger. The situation is not much better with other birds either. Experts say that only fed birds can withstand extreme cold or other inclement weather. A proper food for birds would be sunflower seed (not fried), oats, millet, wheat, raw pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, weed and ash seeds, as well as rowan and elder berries.
Feeding birds and counting them – this is what the ornithologists and environmentalists of Ukraine has recently encouraged children and grown-ups to do, thus inviting everyone to participate the Christmas Bird Count. This global event, which traditionally takes place in late January, has seen Ukraine participating since 1998 (organized by Ukrainian Society for Protection of Birds). The purpose of counting birds in winter is to feed them, to get acquainted with the species diversity, and to educate the love of nature in the younger generation. In the past, the Ministry of Education provided the assistance to ensure active involvement of schools. But nowadays these observations by schools are executed only on paper, and that is why the organizers rely on local activists.
The Christmas Bird Count is the most popular winter event for the study of birds in the world. The tradition of accounting birds was born in the US in 1900, when Frank Chapman, editor of an ornithological magazine Bird-Lore, had proposed a new way of Christmas hunting – with binoculars instead of firearms. Following his call, 26 people for the first time spent the day beside the birds, feeding and watching them. And thus the bird recording had begun in the United States, and soon the initiative was supported by Canada, Latin America, and the countries of the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands.
Zoriana LUKIANCHUK, director for development of the Ukrainian Society for Protection of Birds:
“We expect both ordinary people, who are members of our society, and long-term birdwatchers to take part in the Christmas Bird Count. The event will be held on the past weekend of January – Saturday and Sunday. The main goal is to count the species of wintering birds. We always ask people not to wander far away from home – one shouldn’t leave the city or go to some big ponds, the observations should be performed not far from the house, because we need to count the birds that spend the winter beside people. You can even keep the record looking out of the window – by counting the birds that arrive to the feeder. In order to fully succeed in this activity, people have to start feeding from the beginning of winter and cold weather – the birds that are used to feeders would fly to it constantly and thus counting them would be easy. On our web page we have an electronic questionnaire one can fill out and send to us. I want to say that the Christmas Bird Count is not an express counting, like the one we do in the fall. That’s why the questionnaires can be sent in for a few weeks – we will collect them until March. We don’t use the data in any scientific research, it is rather to draw attention to birds, to help them survive the winter, and to educate how to distinguish between species.”