Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists Sponsor Christmas Bird Count (CBC) in Lanark Highlands

by Marilyn Barnett

Christmas Bird Counts 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 11 years, since 2003. This year will be the twelfth count. Designed to fill a large gap in Lanark County, the LHCBC, sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, is centered 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 30 and this year it falls on a Tuesday.

The Christmas Bird Count is conducted by interested birders who are formed into teams with 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 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 on George Street at noon to warm up, eat a hot lunch and share stories before heading out for a few more hours of counting. At 4:00 P.M. 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 goodies. It is a fun and important day to keep track of and record our local bird populations.

Residents in the count circle who have active bird feeders may also take part in the count. To register for the Feeder Counts, please email Feeder Coordinator Marj Montgomery ( or 259-3078 before Christmas.  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, if necessary, call her.  These numbers will be totaled and added to the counts from the field observers.

Count coordinator is Marilyn Barnett; Howard Robinson enters all the data into our central data base and compiler of the data is Cliff Bennett. To register for the field count, please contact Marilyn preferably by e-mail at or call her at 613-259-2269.