Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

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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