Category Archives: Christmas Bird Count

Our Christmas Bird Count —  initial results

On Saturday December 30th, we completed our annual Christmas Bird Count.

The Numbers:

  • 23 + 7 participants; 715 km driven; 10.5 km walked; 2.5 hrs owling; -14ºC minimum;
  • 38 species overall; estimated 3983 individual birds overall;
  • most populous: American Crow 931, Snow Bunting 740, European Starling 342, Dark-eyed Junco 335, American Goldfinch 300, Black-Capped Chickadee 272, Wild Turkey 223,
  • least seen: Ruffed Grouse 1, Northern Harrier 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Cooper’s Hawk 1, Snowy Owl 1, Belted Kingfisher 1, Northern Shrike 1,
  • Christmas Bird Count participants: (23 participants):
    (Area 1): Ron Jasiuk, Bill, Mike, Russ, Cynthia, Leo;
    (Area 2): Mark Whitcombe, Jerry, Paul, Katherine;
    (Area 3): Linda Lockyer, Mike, Dilys, Debby;
    (Area 4): Ron Ritchie, Mary Lynn, Betty;
    (Area 5): Dawn Renfrew, Darcie;
    (Area 6): Rob Best, Kevin, Anne-Marie, Suzanne
  • Christmas Feeder Watch participants: (7 participants):
    Doug & Jane, Jean, Joan, Robin, Rachel, Liz

Northern Shrike (by Kevin Tipson)

Comments (by a botanist …)

Of note, the cold weather we’ve been having through much of December meant there was very little open unfrozen water, so the geese and other waterfowl including gulls that cluster around water were mostly absent. Northern visitors (i.e., Dark-eyed Juncos, Snow Buntings and Pine Siskins) were present, but few of the more sporadic irruptives were seen. The most notable of these were the one Northen Shrike, and the one Snowy Owl reported by a non-member south of Orangeville along Highway 10. Crossbills, etc., were not reported. (I suspect the excellent seed and cone production during last summer’s well-watered growing season have kept those birds farther north.)

Approximately three-quarters of the total number of individual birds came from 7 out of the 38 species, mostly from those species that congregate in large flocks in winter often taking advantage of agricultural leftovers, i.e., American Crows, European Starlings, Wild Turkeys.  On the other end, 7 species were represented by only 1 individual bird.

In Area 2, south-east from Caledon, we certainly noticed that over a third of birdfeeders maintained and filled in previous years were inactive. That certainly reduced the number and the diversity of species we saw both in residential areas, and along the rural roads near houses.

Dark-eyed Junco (by Paul Blayney)

Comments from Russ (a birder!)

  • Up Trend:  Highest number of Red-bellied Woodpeckers (20) versus 12 last year which was then the highest count. Red-bellied Woodpeckers were first seen in 2006 (1 bird) and then not seen again until 2010 (2 birds).
  • Down Trend:  House Sparrows at 16. Average the last five years is 30. Average for the first five counts (1987-91) was 441.
  • Not a trend, but, rather surprisingly, we saw record numbers of Juncos, Snow Buntings and Grackles (2).
  • On the Snow Buntings, a large flock was seen in both Areas 4 and 6, which adjoin on Hwy 9. I wonder if it was the same flock (estimated at 340 and 400 birds).

Snow Buntings (by Kevin Tipson)

The Pattern

All of this fits with the pattern reported to Ontario Birds by Josh Vandermuelen, one of the aggregators on that site:
“The unrelenting cold weather that has descended upon even the most southerly reaches of the province has limited the number of lingering bird species being discovered, and as a result the Ontario winter bird list is lower than it has been by this date in previous winters.
“Since my last update on December 14, eight new species have been added to the list, bringing it up to 192. In comparison, last year by this date the winter bird list was 207 species, finishing at 216 species. The new additions since my last update are: Vesper Sparrow (Ottawa, London, Sandbanks), Brewer’s Blackbird (Long Point), Tufted Duck (Mississauga to Toronto), Eastern Meadowlark (multiple locations), Indigo Bunting (Seeley’s Bay), Lincoln’s Sparrow (Toronto), Ovenbird (Toronto) and Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Brantford).
“There are very few remaining expected species. Some of the more likely species to be added to the list over the next two months include Boreal Owl, Fish Crow and Pine Warbler. Other species missing from this winter’s list that are more unusual but still observed most winters include Eared Grebe, Black-headed Gull, California Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, Harris’s Sparrow, Spotted Towhee and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch.”
(ONTBIRDS is presented by the Ontario Field Ornithologists (OFO) – the provincial birding organization. For information visit

ONTBIRDS )

Red-bellied Woodpecker (by Kevin Tipson)

Overall

All in all, an excellent experience again this year! Important data was gathered and submitted to the Audubon Society. Citizen Science is important! We had good times together. We welcomed new and accomplished members, and welcomed back some great friends whom we’ve not seen much of. I’m sorry to have missed the wonderful potluck and post-count gathering hosted by Kevin and Carol.

Thanks to Ron Jasiuk and Russ Macgillivray for organizing this important UCFNC annual event! (If you wish more complete information, please Contact us!

Christmas Bird Count 2017: Get your binos and warm clothes ready!

UCFNC Christmas Bird Count areas

Across North America naturalists have been participating in Christmas Bird Counts for well over 100 years. One of the first participants was a Toronto birder!

The first UCFN Christmas Bird Count was conducted on 12 Dec 1987. So this is the 30th anniversary. The data gathered by volunteers is used to track changes in populations and ranges of bird species. It’s also a great opportunity to enjoy and become familiar with winter birds. Our bird count area includes Alton, Erin, Inglewood, Orangeville, Mono Mills, and the surrounding areas. The bird count area is divided into six sub-areas each of which is covered by a team.

As well, we welcome the data from others who contribute Feeder Watch data. This event is not only about identifying and counting birds. It’s about sharing our enthusiasms together, both during the actual counting as we drive and walk through our assigned zones, and then afterwards as we gather for an informal potluck dinner and sharing session. Drivers, photographers, recorders, and general naturalists are needed — as well as good birders! (I’m personally fortunate to be linked up with a good birder and a good photographer!) We start in the early morning, and count until a lunch break, getting in and out of cars to more carefully scan significant areas. Some sort of lunch break is arranged within each group. Then, later in the afternoon, we gather to have our potluck sharing session. (For those who want, you are welcome to spend some time Friday evening listening for owls as well!)

Last year, because of our cold weeks earlier in December there was no open water other than in streams and creeks so that waterfowl were all but absent in late 2016. However, this Christmas Bird Could is not about bigger or better numbers — it’s about getting as detailed an inventory each year to build into larger patterns. Let’s see how the numbers from this year turn out!

There are two ways to participate:
1. Area Search
Participants work as a group with an experienced leader. Most searching for birds is conducted by scanning skies, fields and yards by driving along backroads and residential roads. In some areas short sections are covered by foot.
2. Feeder Watch
Participants spend the count day monitoring their feeders, listing species and the greatest number they see at any one time. If your property is outside the count circle your information cannot be included in what we send to Bird Studies Canada, but the club will be interested in what you saw and your sightings will be included in the next club newsletter. Contact us for the form we’re suggesting for gathering data.

Post Count Pot Luck Get Together
Traditionally, count day ends with a pot luck supper for all members regardless whether they were counting or not. It’s a great time to socialize with fellow club members and to share stories about the days’ sightings and adventures. This year we will be gathering December 30th starting between 4:30 and 5:00 P.M. For details, contact us.

If you are interested in participating in the 2016 UCFN CBC do one of the following.
1. Look at the attached CBC area map, identify the area you would like to help with or the
area where your bird feeders are located and via email contact the leader of that particular area to let them know how you would like to help.

Area 1: Ron Jasiuk
Area 2: Mark Whitcombe
Area 3: Linda Lockyear
Area 4: Ron Ritchie
Area 5: Dawn Renfrew
Area 6: Rob Best

2. If you don’t have a preference where you would like to be birding, contact us.

Contact us!