Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Short-eared owl and other highlights of the 2017 Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count

On December 27th, 38 brave souls braved the ongoing frigid temperatures (-25 to -29) with just enough breeze to make it a challenge to be outside counting birds as part of a field team for the 118th Audubon Christmas Bird Count in the Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count (CBC) circle.  As well, 22 feeder observers participated at their homes. The Carleton Place count was one of three Audubon Christmas Bird Counts sponsored by MVFN within the local area (including the 2017 Rideau Ferry Christmas Bird Count and the 2017 Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count).

The count recorded 40 different species, and 5379 individual birds were recorded.  These numbers are a good 10% below the averages.  The main reason being the continuing lack of northern birds in the area; there were no Bohemian Waxwings, Crossbills, Pine Grosbeaks or Evening Grosbeaks seen on count day or during the count week.  As well the low temperatures convinced the thousands of geese in the area in late November to head south.  Also, fewer hawks were seen throughout the area with no Roughies being seen at all.

Despite this it was a great day with 2 new records set and 2 past records tied. The highlight was a Short-eared Owl which Howard and Mary Robinson found north of Carleton Place sunning itself on a step in the middle of the day. This was a first-time bird for our CBC.  As well a record number of Juncos were recorded (310).  In the last few years people have observed more Juncos at feeders and they stay longer, so maybe the CBC count is confirming this trend. In addition, one Rusty Blackbird was found in a farm yard by Ken Alison and Sophie Roy as well as one Red-bellied Woodpecker found by Arnie and Martha Simpson.  Both these birds tied the past records.

The highlight of the count was a short-eared Owl found sunning itself on a step in the middle of the day. photo Howard Robinson

Short-eared owl. photo Howard Robinson


Red-bellied woodpecker. photo Arnie Simpson


The end of the day count in took place at the Carleton Place Arena and the MVFN Social Committee provided delicious snacks and refreshments.  Many thanks to all the volunteers who made this another successful and enjoyable Christmas Bird Count.

A PDF of the complete results are available here.

Wishing all of you the best in 2018!