Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley


Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

January 8, 2010

Carleton Place and Lanark Highlands Christmas bird counts sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists show record numbers of wild turkeys and plenty of others

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists sponsored two Christmas Bird counts (CBC) in Lanark County, the 59th Annual Carleton Place CBC and the 7th Annual Lanark Highlands count. Over two thousand such counts were held across North and South America, representing the largest citizen scientist activity anywhere in the world. All records are stored with the Audubon Society and used for research and conservation programmes.

These Lanark counts were both exceptional for the record number of wild turkeys seen. Common to both counts was the reduced number of winter finches (low or sharply reduced numbers of pine siskins, crossbills and pine grosbeaks). These northern boreal forest birds are likely finding adequate food further north this winter.

The 59th Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count took place on December 27, 2009 and was led by Iain Wilkes who was also the compiler. Georgina Doe led the feeder counts. Thirty-two field observers and 25 feeder counts took part during a day starting out with fog and clouds with temperatures hovering near zero after the freezing rain of Boxing Day. In all of 41 species were seen and 4562 individuals counted. This is down 7 species and approx. 500 individuals from the 2008 year. Many of the smaller rural roads were difficult to drive and significant surface ice on the road sides made it treacherous in places to pull over on the shoulder. The highlights were 2 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Grackles, 15 Red-winged Blackbirds and a record number of Turkeys at 285. There were a goodly number of Bohemians Waxwings at 159 and as well 500 Snow Buntings seen just outside Carleton Place. At the end of the day a count-in was held where the teams shared sandwiches and refreshments while compiling the results and trading stories of their days outing. Complete individual species recorded for the 2009 Carleton Place Count were:

Canada Goose (30), Mallard (9), Goldeneye (50), Hooded Merganser (2), Bald Eagle (2), Cooper’s Hawk (3), Red-tailed Hawk (5), Rough-legged Hawk (1), Ruffed Grouse (10), Turkey (285), Ring-billed Gull (3), Rock Pigeon (697), Mourning Dove (192), Downy Woodpecker (44), Hairy Woodpeckers (39), Pileated Woodpecker (8), Northern Shrike (3), Blue Jay (244), Crow (382), Raven (12), Chickadee (839), Red-breasted Nuthatch (9), White-breasted Nuthatch (76), Brown Creeper (4), Robin (7), Starling (417), Bohemian Waxwing (159), Tree Sparrow (46), White-throated Sparrow (3), Junco (43), Snow Bunting (515), Cardinal (28), Red-winged Blackbird (15), Rusty Blackbird (1), Grackle (3), Purple Finch (5), House Finch (8), Common Redpoll (10), Pine Siskin (30), Goldfinch (246), and House Sparrow (78).

Thirty-one birders took to the roads and fields for the 7th Annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count, held on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009 to register every bird seen or heard within the fifteen kilometre radius circle centered on Watsons Corners. The Lanark Highlands count was led by Cliff Bennett, with Bruce LeGallais, Bobby Clarke, Ted Mosquin, and Gloria Opzoomer heading up the sections. Marj Montgomery organized and compiled reports from over sixteen feeder counters, to add to the total. At the end of the count day, participants convened to Nature Lovers Book Store in Lanark for the count-in and hot beverages.
The previous record of 188 turkeys, set in last year’s count easily surpassed this year’s 288. The continued build-up of wild turkeys in the area is now evident as each year of the count produces greater numbers. Total count for the circle was 3154 birds, lowest only to the first Lanark Highlands count of 2829 in 2003. A few dozen (76) evening grosbeaks were found, mostly in the Poland area, two dozen purple finches and only four redpolls showed up and no pine siskins, crossbills or pine grosbeaks were found. In spite of the low numbers, records were set for downy woodpeckers (77), Cooper’s hawk (4) and white-breasted nuthatches (101). New to the count was a brown thrasher, which was hanging around a feeder because of an injured wing and one northern harrier. Last year set a record at 4130 birds. Number of species found this year remained high at 38, two down from last year’s record listing of 40 species. Complete individual species recorded for the Lanark Highlands count were:

mallard duck (1), common merganser (10), ruffed grouse (4), wild turkey (288), bald eagle (3), sharp-shinned hawk (1), northern harrier (1), Cooper’s hawk (4), red-tailed hawk , rough-legged hawk (1), rock pigeon (210), mourning dove (98), barred owl (1), downy woodpecker (77), hairy woodpecker (89), pileated woodpecker (7), northern shrike (2), blue jay (224), crow (97), raven (30), black-capped chickadee (897), red-breasted nuthatch (25), white-breasted nuthatch (101), brown creeper (3), golden-crowned kinglet (1), brown thrasher (1), starling (97), Bohemian waxwing (93), tree-sparrows, (87), dark-eyed junco (55), snow bunting (166), cardinal (7), purple finch (26), house finch (6), common redpoll (4), goldfinch (334), evening grosbeak (76), house sparrow (13).


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Birders and nature enthusiasts in Carleton Place and area will join birders across the western hemisphere and participate in Audubon’s longest-running wintertime tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), to be held on December 27th. This year, over 2,000 individual counts are scheduled to take place throughout the Americas and beyond from December 14, 2009 to January 5, 2010.

“Each CBC volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation,” says Dick Cannings, Bird Studies Canada’s Christmas Bird Count Coordinator. “Bird Studies Canada and our partners at the National Audubon Society in the United States, rely on data from the CBC database to monitor bird populations across North America.” During last year’s count, about 70 million birds were tallied by nearly 58,000 volunteers across the continent, which was a record number of observers. In Canada, 11,565 participants counted over 3.2 million birds on a record-high 371 counts.

The data gathered by all this work goes into a huge database used daily by biologists all over the world to monitor the populations and distribution of North American birds. Some of it is key evidence for serious declines; recently Christmas Bird Count data provided pivotal information in the decision to list the Newfoundland Red Crossbill and Rusty Blackbird under the federal Species At Risk Act.

The CBC 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 – and a more than century-old institution.

Since Chapman’s retirement in 1934, new generations of observers have performed the modern-day count. Today, over 55,000 volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Pacific Islands, count and record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area.

The 110th CBC is expected to be larger than ever, expanding its geographical coverage and accumulating information about the winter distributions of various birds. The CBC is vital in monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds across the Western Hemisphere, and the data, which are 100% volunteer generated, have become a crucial part of Canada’s natural history monitoring database.

The Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count takes place on Sunday, December 27th and it is organized by Iain Wilkes, who is also the official Carleton Place compiler for BSC and Georgina Doe co-ordinates all of the feeder counts. Volunteers are welcomed and you don’t need to be an expert but it helps to know the local birds. Participants will be placed in a team led by an experienced birder. You will need a pair of binoculars, a hot thermos and lunch. There is a $5 participation fee levied for each counter. For more information or to register, contact Iain Wilkes, 257-1126 or Home residents with bird feeders can also help by listing all birds at your feeder or in your yard on the count day. Feeder counters should register with Georgina Doe, 257-2103.

At the end of the day, count teams return to the Community Room upstairs at Steve’s Independent in Carleton Place on McNeely Avenue for the count-in as well as refreshments. We look forward to the December 27th count and best of the season to all.

-Iain Wilkes

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MVFN sponsors two Christmas Bird Counts, the Carleton Place Count (December 27) and the Lanark Highlands Count (December 30).

We need helpers for both of these counts.

Here’s an opportunity to shake off the excesses from Christmas and, become a citizen scientist by helping to record our bird population in these two areas. If you have counted before, please consider coming out again this year. If you are a novice, come out anyway as the extra pairs of eyes are invaluable. In both cases, we will place you with a team leader, one who knows birds.

Dress warmly, bring a hot thermos, and a lunch (unless joining a group lunch in a local pub). Don’t forget your binoculars.
There is a cost of $5 per person to help defray cost of compiling results.

If you can’t come out, will you agree to count all of the birds that come to your feeders that day?

For the Carleton Place Count (includes Almonte), Saturday, Dec. 27, contact organizer Iain Wilkes at 613-257-1126 or 

For Carleton Place feeder counting (includes Almonte), contact Georgina Doe at 613-.57-2103 or .

For the Lanark Highlands Count on Tuesday, Dec. 30, contact organizer
Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013 or .

For Lanark Highlands feeder counting, contact Marj Montgomery at 613-259-3078.

At the end of the day, Carleton Place count teams return to the Community Room upstairs at Steve’s Independent in Carleton Place for the count-in as well as refreshments and the Lanark Highlands count teams return to the Nature Lovers Book Store.

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Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
January 2, 2008

by Mike Jaques

Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count – Results 2007

Links to: Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count – Results 2007 (Microsoft Excel or Viewer required to view).

The 64th annual Christmas Bird Count took place on Tuesday December 27th 2007.  It was one of over 2000 counts taking place throughout the Americas over the Christmas period.  The count area is a circle of 15 miles diameter centred on the bridge over the Mississippi River in Carleton Place and including Almonte, Appleton and Ashton.

The temperature was mild, between -3°C and -1°C.  The day started cloudy but by 11 a.m. it started snowing and the snow kept up for the rest of the day, keeping the birds hunkered down and making visibility difficult.  There was about a foot of snow on the ground and cold weather before Christmas had frozen Mississippi Lake and River, although the recent milder weather had caused parts of the river and some creeks to open up.

The number of species seen was 42, which is below the ten-year average of 43.  The number of birds counted was 5011, which is the second-lowest total in the last ten years.  The all-time highs are 50 species and 8855 birds.  No new species for the count were tallied, but there was a record high count of Pileated Woodpeckers (15).  This year there were more birds down from the north than last year, including Common Redpolls, a Hoary Redpoll, Bohemian Waxwings, Pine Grosbeaks and some Evening Grosbeaks although not in the numbers we have seen in the past.  The lower numbers of our usual winter birds were probably due in part to the bad weather on count day.

This year the count was organized by Iain Wilkes for the first time.  At the end of the day the field observers gathered at Mexicali Rosa’s to see the field results displayed.  Georgina Doe organized the feeder counts and Mike Jaques compiled the final results.  The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists sponsored the count and 28 field observers and 31 feeder operators took part.

A list of all species seen and their numbers follows:

Canada Goose                 9

Mallard                            1

Common Goldeneye        62

Common Merganser        8

Sharp-shinned Hawk       3

Cooper’s Hawk                2

Northern Goshawk          1

Red-tailed Hawk             5

Merlin                              1

Ruffed Grouse                 11

Wild Turkey                     158

Herring Gull                     2

Rock Pigeon                    448

Mourning Dove               276

Barred Owl                      1

Downy Woodpecker       64

Hairy Woodpecker          61

Pileated Woodpecker      15

Northern Shrike               7

Blue Jay                           317

American Crow               346

Common Raven               6

Black-capped Chickadee 830

Red-breasted Nuthatch   7

White-breasted Nuthatch        98

Brown Creeper                3

European Starling            126

Bohemian Waxwing        525

Cedar Waxwing               24

American Tree Sparrow   41

Song Sparrow                  1

Dark-eyed Junco              88

Snow Bunting                  150

Northern Cardinal            63

Pine Grosbeak                  31

Purple Finch                     6

Common Redpoll            751

Hoary Redpoll                 1

Pine Siskin                       20

American Goldfinch        264

Evening Grosbeak           100

House Sparrow                78

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Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
January 2, 2007

by Mike Jaques

Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count 2006 

The 63rd annual Christmas Bird Count took place onTuesday December 27th 2006. It was one of over 2000 counts taking place throughout the Americas over the Christmas period. The count area is a circle of 15 miles diameter centered on the bridge over the Mississippi River in Carleton Place and including Almonte, Appleton and Ashton. The first count was conducted in 1944 by George and Douglas Findlay and three others.

The weather on the day was mostly cloudy with temperatures between -10°C and -6°C. There was some snow on the ground but unusually mild weather until Christmas meant that Mississippi Lake was wide open. This was unprecedented and resulted in large numbers of ducks being seen on the lake and many records being broken.

The number of species seen was 44, which is average. The number of birds counted was 6615, which is above average. The all-time highs are 50 species and 8855 birds. No new species for the count were tallied, but the first Great Blue Heron since 1997 and the first Belted Kingfisher since 1998 was found. For the second year in succession a Carolina Wren was seen at a feeder in Carleton Place and other lingering summer birds were found. There were no Evening Grosbeaks or Common Redpolls and generally lower numbers of the winter birds from the north.

There were record highs counts and ties for record for the following species (previous highs in brackets):

Great Blue Heron 1 (1 in 1997)

Canada Goose 395 (318 in 2003)

Common Goldeneye 82 (64 in 2005)

Common Merganser 291 (34 in 1988)

Bald Eagle 4 (2 in 2003)

Cooper’s Hawk 3 (3 in 2003)

Red-tailed Hawk 21 (21 in 2001)

Downy Woodpecker 106 (101 in 1981)

White-breasted Nuthatch 139 (139 in 1982)

Carolina Wren 1 (1 in 2005)

The count was organized by Cliff Bennett. At the end of the day the field observers gathered at the 7 West Cafe to see the field results displayed. Georgina Doe organized the feeder counts and Mike Jaques compiled the final results. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists sponsored the count and 27 field observers and 38 feeder operators took part.

A list of all species seen and their numbers is as follows:

Great Blue Heron 1
Canada Goose 395
Ring-necked Duck 1
Common Goldeneye 82
Common Merganser 291
Bald Eagle 4
Northern Harrier 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 2
Cooper’s Hawk 3
Red-tailed Hawk 21
Rough-legged Hawk 18
Ruffed Grouse 18
Wild Turkey 103
Ring-billed Gull 2
Rock Pigeon 729
Mourning Dove 335
Belted Kingfisher 1
Downy Woodpecker 106
Hairy Woodpecker 89
Pileated Woodpecker 8
Northern Shrike 3
Blue Jay 374
American Crow 417
Common Raven 7
Black-capped Chickadee 982
Red-breasted Nuthatch 15
White-breasted Nuthatch 139
Brown Creeper 2
Carolina Wren 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 3
American Robin 1
European Starling 753
Cedar Waxwing 102
American Tree Sparrow 285
Dark-eyed Junco 110
Snow Bunting 307
Northern Cardinal 49
Red-winged Blackbird 3
Common Grackle 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
Purple Finch 4
House Finch 57
American Goldfinch 624
House Sparrow 164

Also seen in the count week, but not on the day, were Pine Siskins.

Mike Jaques

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