Lanark Highlands CBC
MVFN Sponsors Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count
December 30, 2016
Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) have been around in the Western Hemisphere since the year 1900. Three count circles (7 1/2 mile radius) have been operating for decades in Lanark County and area including Carleton Place, Rideau Ferry and Pakenham.
A fourth circle, the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count (LHCBC), has been around for 12 years, since 2003. This year will be the thirteenth count. Designed to fill a large gap in Lanark County, the LHCBC, sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN), is centred on Watson’s Corners. This count circle takes in Brightside to the north, most of Dalhousie Lake to the west, south to within a km of Balderson and east to include Middleville. The Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count is always on December 30th and this year it falls on a Friday.
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.
All persons interested in gathering data on our local bird population are invited to join in the 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 record their findings and 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.
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 with Feeder Coordinator, Marj Montgomery, before Christmas by email at or leave a message for her 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., preferably 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.
Count coordinator is Marilyn Barnett. Howard Robinson enters all the data into our central data base. Complier of the data is Cliff Bennett. 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.
2015 Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count Results
By Marilyn Barnett, MVFN member and Count Coordinator
On December 30th, 2015 the 13th year of the annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count (CBC), 3023 birds were recorded. This number is well down from the record of 4276 birds seen in the 2010 count, but up from last year’s lowest CBC numbers of 2640 birds. However, the total number of species counted this year was forty, almost breaking the record of forty-two different species of birds seen during the 2012 Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count.
This year was still exciting with several record highs:
Two Common loons were seen on Dalhousie Lake. One loon was seen in 2004 but none during the count since then. Nine Common golden-eye ducks were spotted on the open water of Dalhousie Lake, up from the three seen in 2003. Seventy-seven Common mergansers were spotted, up from the seven seen in 2013; and thirteen Hooded mergansers were seen, up from one seen in 2011. One Merlin was seen, equaling the single ones recorded in 2008 and 2011; and four Common grackles were seen, up from two seen in 2008.
Mergansers seen during last year’s count. Photo Howard Robinson.
There were also some new species recorded this year:
An amazing 177 Snow geese and sixteen red-winged blackbirds were recorded, neither species having been seen before on the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count. The milder weather right up to count day most likely explains this!
Birds seen during count week include four bald eagles and a Northern shrike. Lows for the 2015 count were ruffed grouse, blue jays, common raven, snow buntings. Also, no waxwings, grosbeaks, or kinglets were seen at all this year. There is always next year!
This year there were thirty-one field counters: stalwart folk tramping along country roads and into fields and up to feeders (those not being monitored by feeder counters) from early morning until 3:30 in the afternoon. We had thirty-eight field counters signed up but unfortunately seven were unable to attend due to the sudden heavy snowfall. They were unable to get out of their driveways. There were only eight feeder counters this year which may also explain the lower overall numbers. Participation from our Young Naturalist’s was new this year and we had two avid young people wanting to learn more about birds in Lanark.
Sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, the annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count takes place every December 30th no matter the weather. Field counters take to the roads and fields to register every bird seen or heard within a fifteen kilometer radius centered on Watson’s Corners. The circle is divided into four equal sections each with a leader. Thanks to Bruce LeGallais, Bobby Clarke, Lise Balthazar and Pip Winters who have all served as section leaders for many years. All of the volunteer leaders, field and feeder counters, and coordinators are to be commended.
Special thanks to Howard Robinson for setting up his laptop and screen at the Lanark Civitan Club and entering the data so that everyone was able to see the results as they came in, and to Cliff Bennett for his helpful commentary and contribution throughout.
The Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count is one of over two thousand counts held across North and South America and is the largest citizen-scientist activity anywhere in the world. All records are stored with the Audubon Society and used for research and conservation programs. For further information or a complete list of the tally, please contact data complier Cliff Bennett at or count coordinator Marilyn Barnett at If you know birds by sight or sound and would like to participate in next year’s count, please contact Marilyn to be added to the list for December 30th, 2016.
Local Audubon Christmas Bird Counts invite participants
NOTE: Feature photo of Mute Swans (at Presqu’ile), by Howard Robinson
Thousands of individuals are taking part in Audubon Christmas Bird counts throughout the Americas and beyond, between December 14, 2015, and January 5, 2016. The Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is the Audubon Society’s longest-running wintertime tradition, beginning Christmas Day in 1900. On that day, a conservation minded ornithologist, Frank Chapman, proposed a “Christmas Bird Census” (instead of a hunt) to identify, count, and record as many birds as they could. Thus was founded what is now considered to be the world’s most significant citizen-based conservation effort. “Each CBC volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation.” Bird Studies Canada and partners at the National Audubon Society in the United States rely on data from the CBC database to monitor bird populations.
The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists sponsors three local Christmas Bird Counts, the Carleton Place CBC (December 27), the Lanark Highlands CBC (December 30), and, new this year, the Rideau Ferry CBC (which took place on December 19). Details are included here, or visit mvfn.ca. Volunteers are essential to the success of the Christmas bird census activities. You do not 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; everyone is welcome. You will need a pair of binoculars. As well, residents with bird feeders within a count area can help by listing all birds at your feeder or in your yard on the count day.
Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count
Date: Sunday, December 27. 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.For more information or to register, contact Iain Wilkes at or 613-250-0722. 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 Community Room upstairs at Mitchell’s Independent in Carleton Place on McNeely Avenue for the count-in as well as refreshments.
Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count
iDate: Wednesday, December 30. The count circle includes Brightside to the north, Middleville to the east, most of Dalhousie Lake to the west, and south to within a km of Balderson. For information or to register for count teams, please contact Marilyn Barnett, preferably at or at 613-259-2269.To register for the Feeder Counts, please contact Marjorie Montgomery before Christmas at or, if necessary, by telephone at 613-259-3078.
Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count
The 13th annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count will be held on Wednesday, December 30, 2015. The count circle includes Brightside to the north, Middleville to the east, most of Dalhousie Lake to the west, and south to within a km. of Balderson. The Coordinator is Marilyn Barnett.
To register for the teams going out in the field to count, please contact Marilyn Barnett, preferably by email at or at 613-259-2269.
To register for the Feeder Counts, please contact Marjorie Montgomery before Christmas at or, if necessary, by telephone at 613-259-3078.
Tree Sparrow. Photo Susan Wilkes
2014 Lanark Highlands Bird Count Records Lowest Numbers
by Marilyn Barnett
On December 30th, the 12th year of the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count, 2640 birds were recorded as seen or heard during the count day. Compare this to the highest count numbers on record, in 2010, when 4276 birds were counted. The average count is 3574 so the 2014 count was almost 1000 birds below average. This year’s count of 34 species showed the 2nd lowest number of species since the count began in 2003. During the highest year to date, in 2012, 42 species were recorded.
We had 32 counters in the field (11 fewer field counters than last year) and 18 feeder counters (one fewer feeder counter compared with last year), an average number of citizen scientists. Low number of birds can be attributed to the weather; no snow cover, high pressure zone, and brilliant sunlight, as well as fewer counters. Birds were just not moving around or flying high to be seen and recorded in the usual numbers. Despite the disappointing numbers, the enthusiastic field counters braved the cold and their efforts are valuable and appreciated.
In spite of the low count, two records were achieved. The fourteen pileated woodpeckers seen was two more than the 12 recorded last year and in 2007. 115 white breasted nuthatches were counted, 14 more than the record to date, in 2009.
Even with much open water, only Canada geese were recorded. During the count week though, two common mergansers and a black duck were sighted. Numbers of wild turkeys were very low (98), well below the average of 162. No purple finches, pine grosbeaks or waxwings were seen or heard this year and only six snow buntings were recorded.
Common Mergansers seen during the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird count. Photo by Howard Robinson
There were no owls spotted on count day, although a barred owl was counted during the count week. Almost all species counted were below average in numbers but hairy woodpeckers, cardinals and blue jays were above average in numbers.
The Feeder Counts were down by over a third with only 797 birds, compared with 1524 counted in 2012. Marj Montgomery is the Feeder Count Coordinator. Marj combined the reports from her feeder counters to add to the total. Thank you to Marj and to all the feeder counters who monitored their feeders for the day and recorded their findings.
In summary, 69 species have been listed since the count began in 2003. Important bird species listed during count week (three days before and three days after count day but not seen on count day) included common merganser, black duck, great blue heron and a barred owl.
Sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count (LHCBC) takes place every December 30th. The field counters take to the roads and fields to register every bird seen or heard within a fifteen kilometer radius centered on Watson’s Corners. The circle is divided into four equal sections each with a Section leader. Thanks to Bruce LeGallais, Bobby Clarke, Lise Balthazar and Pip Winters who all serve as Section Leaders. All of the volunteer leaders and counters are to be commended.
Special thanks to Howard Robinson for setting up his laptop and screen at the Lanark Civitan Club and entering the data so that everyone was able to see the results as they came in and to Cliff Bennett for his helpful commentary and contribution throughout.
The Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count is one of over two thousand counts held across North and South America and is the largest citizen scientist activity anywhere in the world. All records are stored with the Audubon Society and used for research and conservation programs. For further information or a complete list of the tally, please contact data complier Cliff Bennett at or count coordinator Marilyn Barnett at Results are also posted here: LH CBC Results If you know birds by sight or sound and would like to participate in next year’s count, please contact Marilyn to be added to her list for December 30th, 2015.