Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

MVFN sponsors two Christmas Bird Counts (CBC), 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 Story
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
December 31, 2007
by Cliff Bennett

Many Records Broken In Recent Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Census

The fifth Annual Audubon Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, Dec. 30, under ideal winter conditions. Compared to last year when there was only a smattering of snow on the ground, this year’s deep snow made traveling off road somewhat difficult. In spite of this challenge, some surprising results occurred, including a record number of birds counted and the number of species listed increasing by one. Seven new records were broken and three completely ‘new-to-the-Lanark Highlands count’ species were listed.

Although there was some open water on the Mississippi River and into Dalhousie Lake, there were no water birds to be found this year, unlike last year where over 300 geese and a few ducks were registered. However, the twenty-three field observers and fourteen feeder counters persevered and managed to break the record for number of birds counted and species recorded. 4,005 individual birds counted this year surpassed 2004’s 3,717 and thirty-seven species beat 2005’s thirty-six species by one.

Individual records broken this year included wild turkeys, 123 (100 in 2005); mourning doves, 207 (139 in 2004); blue jays, 401 (342 in 2004) and pine grosbeaks, 132 (31 in 2004). All three woodpecker records were surpassed including downy woodpecker, 74 (52 last year); hairy woodpecker, 115 (80 in 2004) and pileated woodpecker, 12 (10 in 2004). Records were tied for sharp-shinned hawks (2) and white-throated sparrows (2). New species listed for the very first time in the count were Cooper’s hawk, grackle and cedar waxwings.

The count circle is centered on Watson’s Corners and covers a 15 km radius. The circle is divided into four equal ‘pieces of the pie’ and each was assigned a team leader, all local residents. Team A led by Bruce LeGallais included Don Brown (Kanata), Don McInerney, Pip Winters, Paul Frigon and Phil Laflamme. Team B led by Roberta Clarke, assisted by John Clarke, included Louis Frenette (Carleton Place), Lynda Bennett, Paul Sprague and Gloria Opzoomer. Team C was led by Claire Fisher and team members were George Fisher, Neil and Lucy Carleton, Jeff Mills, Jim and Yvonne Bendell and Lise Balthazar. Team D, led by Ted Mosquin, included Linda Mosquin and Mark Garbutt. Marjorie Montgomery organized and compiled the feeder counts. Project organizer and compiler was Lanark ERA columnist Cliff Bennett and the event was sponsored by Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN).

The highlight of the day as usual, was the count-in reception. Hosted by Mary Vandenhoff and staff at the Nature Lovers Book Store in Lanark, all members gathered to compare experiences, discuss the results compiled on a chart and enjoy excellent refreshments. In return for the hosting, MVFN will be making a financial contribution to the North Lanark Community Heath Centre.

MVFN wishes to thank and congratulate all participants. Complete results are as follows:

bald eagle 1; sharp-shinned hawk 2; Cooper’s hawk 2; red-tailed hawk 1; rough-legged hawk 2; ruffed grouse 3; wild turkey 123; rock pigeon 198; mourning dove 207; barred owl 2; downy woodpecker 74; hairy woodpecker 115; pileated woodpecker 12; northern shrike 1; blue jay 401; common crow 93; raven 45; chickadee 986; red-breasted nuthatch 20; white-breasted nuthatch 84; golden-crowned kinglet 3; starling 189; cedar waxwing 4′ Bohemian waxwing 90; tree sparrow 51; dark-eyed junco 41; white-throated sparrow 2; snow bunting 179; cardinal 14; common grackle 1; pine grosbeak 132; purple finch 10; house finch 6; common redpoll 466; goldfinch 132; evening grosbeak 288; house sparrow 37.

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Press Release
Submitted by:  Cliff Bennett
January 2, 2005

The 2nd Annual Watson’s Corners Audubon Christmas Bird Count, held on Thursday, Dec. 30, yielded an unprecedented twelve great gray owls, indicating a major invasion of these large northern-breeding raptors. The local results mirror similar tallies all across Ontario, probably due to a collapse of the owls’ favourite rodent source of food in the northern boreal regions.

The Watson’s Corners count area includes a circle centred at Watson’s Corners and taking in every space within a fifteen mile circumference. Twenty-four participants in eleven different search parties, took to the field to count every bird they could hear or see. As well, the count included birds recorded by ten different feeder watchers.The results tallied showed 3716 individual birds included in 20 different species, a significant increase from the first year ‘s count of 2833 birds and 20 species.

Highlights of this year’s count, aside from the great grays, were one snowy owl in the Balderson area, one common loon on the Mississippi River and three gray partridge. High counts were registered for (brackets show 2003 numbers) rock pigeons 220 (72), blue jays 342 (76) and chickadees 1162 (572), while low counts showed crows 98 (143), starlings 61 (349), common redpoll 269 (698) and evening grosbeaks 80 (387). Species not seen this year included barred owls, hoary redpolls, rough-legged hawks, bald eagle, common mergansers, red-tailed hawks and golden-crowned kinglets. Aside from the owls, raptors were very scarce. Only two sharp-shinned hawks were reported but one goshawk and one bald eagle were reported during the count week.

The count area was divided into four sections, each with a team leader. Leaders included Bruce LeGallais, Hopetown section, Bobby Clarke, Lanark Village section, Claire Fisher, McDonald Corners section and Ted Mosquin, Poland Section. Marj Montgomery coordinated the feeder counts. Organizer and compiler was Cliff Bennett.

At the end of the day, observers gathered at the Nature Lovers Book Store in Lanark to enter results on the master chart and enjoy refreshments, provided by members of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Foundation. On behalf of the Count sponsor, Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, Cliff Bennett thanked all of the participants and announced the date of the 3rd Annual 2005 Watson’s Corners Christmas Bird Count, to be held on Friday, Dec. 30.

Bird counts:

Watson Corners Species Report

Watson Corners Section Report

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Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Cliff Bennett
Friday, Nov.28, 2003

Field Naturalists Form New Bird Count Area in Lanark Highlands

Cardinal (Photo Credit:  Sandra Bauer)Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) have been around in the Western Hemisphere since the year 1900. Three count circles (71/2 mile radius) have been operating for decades in Lanark County and area including Carleton Place, Rideau Ferry and Pakenham.

A new count circle, designed to fill a large gap in Lanark County, is being established by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) in the Lanark Highlands area, centred on Watson’s Corners. This circle will take in Brightside to the north, most of Dalhousie Lake to the west, south to within a km. of Balderson and east to include Middleville. Activities in this new circle will be on a trial run basis for this year, with the first formal count being conducted in 2004.

A count is conducted by interested birders forming into teams and combing the roads, trails and woodlots during the count day to record every bird seen or heard. The results compiled for Canada are sent to Bird Studies Canada. CBCs take place all over North and Central America, the Caribbean and Hawaii. This annual event produces a definitive census of our bird population and is used for many research and conservation programmes designed to encourage the continuing health of our avian friends.

The date for the new Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count will be Tuesday, Dec. 30. All persons interested in the health of our local bird population, are invited to join in on the count. Teams will be formed, each team with a more knowledgeable birder. They will be assigned a count area and will spend the daylight hours counting every bird they see or hear. At the end of the day, all will gather at the Nature Lovers Book Store in Lanark Village, to record their findings and enjoy hot refreshments.

Residents in the count circle who have active bird feeders can also take part in the final tally. To register for the feeder counts, contact the feeder coordinator Marj. Gilmour, 259-3078 before the tally date. Then, on Dec. 30, feeder watchers will count every bird coming in to their feeders or appearing in their yard and phone in their resulting tally to Marj. These numbers will be totalled and added to the main count from the field observations.

Count coordinator for this first count is MVFN Director Cliff Bennett, . To register for the field count, contact Cliff at 256-5013 or by e-mail

For further information, call Cliff.

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