Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Enhance your enjoyment of winter and the Christmas season by participating in one, or two, or even three local Christmas Bird Counts which are part of the 2017 Audubon and Bird Studies Canada annual count. The data collected is vital for bird conservation research.

Saturday, December 16: Rideau Ferry Christmas Bird Count (includes Perth and Smiths Falls) 

Wednesday, December 27: Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count (includes Almonte)

Saturday, December 30: Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count

There are two ways you can participate as a “citizen scientist” and count birds within one of three count circles:

  • sign up to be part of a team to go out on a field count in one part of the count circle for the day


  • register as a “feeder counter” and contribute to the feeder/yard count data– from the comfort of your own home!

The field teams and others get together after the day is finished, for the “count-in” to have their results tabulated and to socialize with each other.

You don’t need to be a birding expert – you will be matched up with knowledgeable birders if requested.  DO bring your own binoculars!

Contact information for the count coordinators for all three local counts sponsored by MVFN are as follows. Contact the count coordinators to sign up to participate, or for more information. You can read further details for each of the counts in the press releases posted here on the website.



Register for a 2017 Christmas Bird Count


Rideau Ferry Christmas Bird Count (includes Perth and Smiths Falls), Saturday, December 16

To volunteer for a team or to monitor your own feeders for the Rideau Ferry Count, contact Count Coordinator Rosemary Anderson:  or 613-700-9233.

A “count-in” potluck will take place in Perth.

Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count (includes Almonte), Wednesday, December 27

To volunteer for a CP count team, contact Count Coordinator Iain Wilkes:  or 613-250-0722.

To volunteer to monitor your own feeders/yard as part of the CP count, contact Georgina Doe:  613-257-2103.

The “count-in” will be held in the board room at the Carleton Place Arena.

Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count, Saturday, December 30

To volunteer for a team on the Lanark Highlands Count, contact Count Coordinator Marilyn Barnett: or 613-259-2269.

To volunteer to monitor your own feeders/yard as part of the Lanark Highlands Count, contact Marj Montgomery:  or 613-259-3078.

A “count-in” will take place at the Lanark Civitan Hall.

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Birders and nature enthusiasts in Carleton Place and surrounding areas can join citizen scientists throughout the Americas and participate in the Audubon Society’s longest-running wintertime tradition, the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The Carleton Place CBC will be held this year on Wednesday, December 27th and it is sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN; one of three sponsored by MVFN, including the Rideau Ferry Christmas Bird Count and the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count) and coordinated in Canada by Bird Studies Canada.  The count area is a 24 km circle centered on the bridge over the Mississippi River in Carleton Place, and includes Almonte, Appleton and Ashton.

Thousands of individuals participate in counts throughout the Americas and beyond between December 14, 2017 and January 5, 2018. “Each CBC volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation.  Bird Studies Canada and its partner at the National Audubon Society in the United States rely on data from the CBC database to monitor bird populations.  Last year, during the 2016 Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count over 60 volunteers spent the day observing birds resulting in the recording of over 6000 birds and 39 different species.

The CBC tradition began over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by scientist and writer Frank Chapman, changed the course of ornithological history.  On Christmas Day in 1900, the small group posed an alternative to the ‘side hunt,’ a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals.  Instead, Chapman proposed that they identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the world’s most significant citizen-based conservation effort.   The first Audubon bird count in Carleton Place took place in 1944.

Volunteers are essential to the success of the CBC. You don’t need to be an expert but it helps to be familiar with local bird species.  In any case, participants in the field counts will be placed in a team led by an experienced birder and everyone is welcome. You will need a pair of binoculars.  As well residents with bird feeders within a count area can also help by listing all birds at your feeder or in your yard on the count day.

For more information or to register for the Carleton Place CBC on December 27th, please contact Iain Wilkes at 613-250-0722 or .  If you are interested in helping out by counting birds at your feeder/yard, please register with Georgina Doe at 613- 257-2103.  At the end of the Carleton Place count day, field participants return to the Board Room on the first floor of the Carleton Place Arena at 75 Neelin St. in Carleton Place (corner of Neelin St. and Begley St.),  for the count-in as well as refreshments and snacks.

Best of the Season to All!

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Barred and Great-horned Owls, Trumpeter Swans, Purple Finches and Pileated Woodpeckers are a few of the many colourful bird species which may be seen or heard, and counted, by keen observers during the Rideau Ferry Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, December 16, 2017!

The count area is a 24-km diameter circle, centered on Rideau Ferry, and includes Perth and Smiths Falls. The Rideau Ferry count is one of three local counts sponsored by MVFN (the other two MVFN-sponsored counts are centered around Carleton Place and the Lanark Highlands). All are welcome to join in this count, which is one of many bird counts being held as part of the 118th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Started in 1900, the Christmas Bird Count is North America’s longest-running Citizen Science project. Counts happen in over 2000 localities throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Small teams of birders are assigned a specific area within the count circle area. New birders for the count, experienced birders, and enthusiastic beginners; all are welcome to join one of the count teams. You do not need to be an expert, but it helps to know the local birds. You will be placed on a team with experienced birders. Residents of the area who have bird feeders are encouraged to register for the feeder count by contacting the Count Coordinator Rosemary Anderson and sending in observations of December 16. Often feeders cannot be seen from the road and have large numbers of over-wintering birds present which need to be counted! Detailed instructions will be sent when you join the count.

Registration information: To register, or for more information, please contact Count Coordinator Rosemary Anderson at or 613-700-9233.

Information collected by citizen scientists on this count, along with the data from thousands of other CBCs in Canada, is submitted to Bird Studies Canada and used to track the health of wintering bird populations and contributes much needed information to various research and conservation efforts, including those monitoring the effects of climate change on bird populations.

Results from the day’s observations will be collected at the count-in/potluck supper in Perth, to which all field and feeder observers are cordially invited!

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday December 16, 2017!

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Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) have taken place in the Western Hemisphere since 1900. In the local area there are four count circles (7 1/2-mile radius) which are active, including Carleton Place, Rideau Ferry, and Lanark Highlands CBC’s, all sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, and the Pakenham-Arnprior CBC. For information on the Carleton Place CBC or Rideau Ferry CBC’s follow these links. For information on the Pakenham-Arnprior CBC visit the Macnamara Field Naturalists website.

The Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count began in 2003 and filled a large gap in North Lanark County bird census. The Lanark Highlands count is centered on Watson’s Corners and takes in Brightside to the north, most of Dalhousie Lake to the west, south to within a kilometre of Balderson and east to include Middleville.  The Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count is always on December 30th which this year falls on a Saturday.

The Christmas Bird Count is conducted by interested birders who are formed into teams each with a group leader.  These avid birders comb the roads, trails and woodlots during the count day to record every bird seen or heard. The results are sent to Bird Studies Canada. This annual event produces a definitive census of our bird population across the entire Western Hemisphere and is used for many research and conservation programs designed to encourage the continuing health of our avian friends.

Field Count: All persons interested in gathering data on our local bird population are invited to join in the field count. Teams will be formed, each team having a knowledgeable birder. Each team will be assigned a count area and will spend the daylight hours from 8 a.m. counting every bird they see or hear. Many of us meet at the Lanark Landing for lunch on George Street in Lanark at noon to warm up and share stories before heading out for a few more hours of counting. At 3:30 or so, the birders gather at the Lanark Civitan Hall just outside Lanark Village along Pine Grove Road (called South Street in Lanark Village) to tally their findings, enjoy hot refreshments and some tasty goodies and watch the final count numbers as they come in. This is a fun and important day as we keep track of and record our local bird populations for research purposes.  If you have not participated before and would like to register for the field count, please contact Marilyn, preferably by e-mail at ,  or call her at 613-259-2269.

Yard/Feeder Count: Residents in the count circle area who have active bird feeders may like to take part in the count as a feeder counter by spending a few hours documenting birds at their feeders. Feeder Counters must register before Christmas with Feeder Count Coordinator Marj Montgomery, preferably by email at or by leaving a message at 613-259-3078.  On December 30, the feeder watchers will count every bird coming in to their feeders or appearing in their yard and, by 2 p.m., send (preferably by email) your results to Marj or leave her a message.  These numbers will be totalled and added to the main count from the field observations.

Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count coordinator is Marilyn Barnett. Howard Robinson enters all the data into our central data base. Complier of the data is Cliff Bennett who submits the data to Bird Studies Canada.


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The following account of the open house day was written by Michel Gauthier

Nine nature enthusiasts showed up at the Almonte Lagoon observation tower on Wednesday to participate in the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists Birding Open House. They came from Almonte, Ottawa, and Perth. Club members Ken Allison and Michel Gauthier were on hand to help them identify the different species.

Although the event started at three o’clock sharp, someone forgot to tell the birds: the picking was proverbially slim. Our birders, always the optimists, remained glued to their scope and binoculars. Other than for the ever-present Canada geese and mallards, the great majority of expected bird species for this time of the year refused to make an appearance. The birders persisted, as you can see in the following picture of (from left to right) Frank Campbell, Ronald Vandebeek, and Sheryl-Elaine Grazeau.

At approximately four o’clock, other birds began to fly in. So many, in fact, that by the end of the event at 5 o’clock, our participants had identified 30 species, among them the blue-winged teals in the photo below. Persistence paid off and turned a so-so birding day into a successful one.

Following is a list of the birds identified:

Species Count
Canada Goose 64
Wood Duck 9
Blue-winged Teal 25
Mallard 5
Green-winged Teal 6
Hooded Merganser 5
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Turkey Vulture 2
Bald Eagle 2
Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Solitary Sandpiper 2
Lesser Yellowlegs 1
Ring-billed Gull 40
Mourning Dove 1
Chimney Swift 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Blue Jay 8
American Crow 3
Common Raven 2
Barn Swallow 4
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Gray Catbird 1
Cedar Waxwing 20
Yellow-rumped Warbler 3
Song Sparrow 3
Baltimore Oriole 1
Red-winged Blackbird 11
American Goldfinch 4


Invitation to the next open house:

The Mississippi Field Naturalists invite you to the next Birding Open House at the Lagoon, which will take place on Sept 13, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. To get there from Almonte, take Wolf Grove Road (County Rd. 16) towards Middleville, 2 km. Turn north onto Ramsay Conc. 8 at the Auld Kirk church and cemetery, and travel approximately 100 m to the trailhead. The trail entrance is on Ramsay Conc.  8 across the road from, and just past, the cemetery. A small yellow sign marks the entrance.


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