Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

On December 30th, 2017 the 15th year of the annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count, the total number of birds counted was 3419, lower than the highest count of 4276 in 2010. The number of different species found was 31, the lowest in all 15 years of the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count.

All across the province, lower numbers of birds were recorded, probably due to frigid temperatures, although the number of different species seen has come in quite high, almost normal. The average numbers of birds recorded on the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird count day is 3520.  Over the fifteen years of conducting the count, a total of seventy-eight different species have been recorded. The Lanark Highlands count is one of three local counts sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (other MVFN counts are the Rideau Ferry Christmas Bird Count an the Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count which includes Almonte).

The somewhat low number of species counted this year can generally be attributed to the absence of waterfowl in the area owing to the severe cold weather and freeze-up of most water areas.   Another factor compared to previous years may be the lower number of observers available on count day. At least one couple had to decline on short notice owing to illness. Also, there may have been less walking overall due to cold temperatures.

We had two new species this year to set two new records:  two Lapland longspurs were seen and photographed as well as a winter wren. While blue jays (565) were most plentiful they did not break the record of 641 in 2013.   Dark-eyed Juncos (456) did however set a record compared with the 276 seen in 2013.

Aside from the bald eagles, there were only three other raptors counted this year, an almost low number for this count. The usual high for raptors is around thirty.

So far the count-week birds are a lonely Canada goose (1) seen on Dec 29th 2017, plus a Northern shrike (1) and a red-tailed hawk (1).

The official listing for this year’s count is as follows;

ruffed grouse (23); wild turkeys (262); bald eagles (10); golden eagle (1); red-tailed hawk (2); rock pigeon (138); mourning doves (190); barred owl (1); downy woodpecker (55); hairy woodpecker (73); pileated woodpecker (6); blue jay (565); crow (122); ravens (53); black-backed chickadees (518); red-breasted nuthatches (21); white-breasted nuthatches (56); brown creepers (2); winter wren (1); robins (5); starlings (91); cedar waxwing (1); tree sparrows (140); juncos (456); Lapland longspurs (2); snow buntings (185); cardinals (15); purple finch (9); common redpoll (12); pine siskins (35); goldfinch (369).

click here for pdf of detailed results for 2017 Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count

Sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, the annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count (LHCBC) takes place every December 30th, no matter the weather.  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.  Special thanks to Ian Paige, Jeff Mills, Ramsey Hart, Lise Balthazar and Pip Winters who served as Section Leaders, and to Marj Montgomery who organizes the Feeder Count.  All the volunteer leaders, 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 could see the results as they came in, and to Cliff Bennett for doing the final compilation of the results and his contribution throughout the count, not to mention his encouragement to area birders.

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 Bird Studies Canada and the Audubon Society and used for research and conservation programs. For further information please contact compiler 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 her list for the December 30th, 2018 LHCBC.

by Cliff Bennett and Marilyn Barnett

 

 

 

 

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In contrast to two other local counts sponsored by MVFN (on December 27 and 30), the Rideau Ferry Christmas Bird Count was held in relatively good weather on December 16, 2017 and a record number of 58 species were counted! The Rideau Ferry count was one of three Audubon Christmas Bird Counts sponsored by MVFN within the local area (others counts 2017 Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count and the 2017 Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count).

Alison Bentley: “It was a record count with 58 species, which all goes to prove that the compiler (yours truly) should go away more often and miss the actual day of the count! Weather was nice, and we had some really good experienced birders join up, so the combination of the two led to great sightings. This photo by Howard and Mary Robinson kind of sums it all up – snow, some open water and a Mallard just hanging out. Also one of the Gray Catbird which, along with Northern Pintail and Double-crested Cormorant was new for the count, and of course an excellent winter sighting. Thanks to the Route 3 team of Mark Gawn and Marc Bosc for these observations. Unfortunately, the catbird was visibly shivering, and its survival seemed unlikely.”

The chart below the photos, summarizes results of the 4396 birds counted and was prepared by count compiler Alison Bentley. Or click here for a pdf of these 2017 Rideau Ferry Christmas Bird Count results.

 

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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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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.

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2015 

By Marilyn Barnett, MVFN member and Count Coordinator

Count day results list

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.

Common Mergansers Howard Robinson

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.

 

 

 

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