Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley
Mississippi River at Pakenham

Christmas Bird Count

Local birders get set for 116th Audubon Christmas Bird Count 

NOTE: The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists sponsor three area Christmas Bird Counts: the Carleton Place CBC, the Lanark Highlands CBC and the newly reorganized Rideau Ferry CBC. Details for the Carleton Place count are included below at the end of this article. Link to the Rideau Ferry Count details here; details for the Lanark Highlands CBC will be posted soon; the dates and key contact info are on our interactive calendar for December.

Birders and nature enthusiasts in Carleton Place, Almonte and surrounding areas can join citizen scientists throughout the Americas and participate in the Audubon Society’s longest-running wintertime tradition, the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The Carleton Place CBC will be held this year on Sunday, December 27th and it is sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) and coordinated in Canada by Bird Studies Canada.  The count area is a 24 km circle centered on the bridge over the Mississippi River in Carleton Place, and includes Almonte, Appleton and Ashton.

Great Horned Owl Howard Robinson

 A Great Horned Owl, seen during last year’s Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count. Photo Howard Robinson. 

Thousands of individuals will participate in counts throughout the Americas and beyond between December 14, 2015 and January 5, 2016. “Each CBC volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation.”  Bird Studies Canada and  partners at the National Audubon Society in the United States rely on data from the CBC database to monitor bird populations.  Last year, during the 2014 Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count over 60 volunteers spent the day observing birds resulting in the recording of over 5400 birds and 47 different species.

The CBC tradition began over a century ago when a conservation minded ornithologist, Frank Chapman, along with others, were becoming concerned about declining bird populations.  On Christmas Day in 1900, Frank Chapman proposed a new holiday tradition to take the place of the traditional Christmas Day “Side Hunt” competition to shoot the most birds and small mammals.  Instead, Chapman proposed a “Christmas Bird Census” to identify, count, and record as many birds as they could, founding what is now considered to be the world’s most significant citizen-based conservation effort.   The first Audubon bird count in Carleton Place took place in 1944.

Volunteers are essential to the success of the CBC. You don’t need to be an expert but it helps to be familiar with local bird species.  In any case, participants in the field counts will be placed in a team led by an experienced birder; everyone is welcome. You will need a pair of binoculars.  As well, residents with bird feeders within a count area can help by listing all birds at your feeder or in your yard on the count day.

For more information or to register for the Carleton Place CBC on December 27th, please contact Iain Wilkes at or 613-250-0722. If you are interested in helping out by counting birds at your feeder/yard, please register with Georgina Doe at 613-257-2103.  At the end of the Carleton Place count day, field participants return to the Community Room upstairs at Mitchell’s Independent in Carleton Place on McNeely Avenue for the count-in as well as refreshments.

Best of the Season to All!

 

The Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dear MVFN Members,

The Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count (LHCBC) is on for the 10th year, Sunday, December 30. This Lanark Highlands Count is sponsored by MVFN. It is a Bird Studies Canada project and part of the Audubon Christmas Bird Counts which take place all over North and South America. It is the largest bird census ever. The statistical data on bird species locations and numbers collected as part of this census is essential to the ongoing effort to increase our understanding of bird populations and to support conservation of wildlife.

The count depends on volunteers who become citizen scientists for a day to record the numbers and species of birds seen either at their feeders or with teams out in the field on the count day.

What is involved for those volunteers wishing to participate?

 • Basic knowledge of local bird species is helpful but beginners are welcome as you will be matched with more experienced birders on the count teams.

• Feeder counters within the count circle count birds at your feeders on the count day. At the end of the day all the feeder counts are collected via telephone. Please call Marj Montgomery at 613-259-3078 to register for the feeder count.

• Field team counters will go out for the day as part of field team locating, identifying and counting birds within a well-defined subsection of the count circle. You will be assigned to one of four team leaders.

• If unusual or different species are seen up to 3 days before or after the count day they should also be reported.

The field count teams will have lunch together and continue the count afterwards. After the counting, the end-of-day, ‘count-in’ will take place at Lanark Legion Hall, beginning ~ 4 to 5:30 pm. Refreshments are provided at the count-in.

If you would like to participate in this event, please contact Marilyn Barnett at 613-259-2269 or .

For further information, please contact Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013 or 

 

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

January 8, 2010

Carleton Place and Lanark Highlands Christmas bird counts sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists show record numbers of wild turkeys and plenty of others

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists sponsored two Christmas Bird counts (CBC) in Lanark County, the 59th Annual Carleton Place CBC and the 7th Annual Lanark Highlands count. Over two thousand such counts were held across North and South America, representing the largest citizen scientist activity anywhere in the world. All records are stored with the Audubon Society and used for research and conservation programmes.

These Lanark counts were both exceptional for the record number of wild turkeys seen. Common to both counts was the reduced number of winter finches (low or sharply reduced numbers of pine siskins, crossbills and pine grosbeaks). These northern boreal forest birds are likely finding adequate food further north this winter.

The 59th Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count took place on December 27, 2009 and was led by Iain Wilkes who was also the compiler. Georgina Doe led the feeder counts. Thirty-two field observers and 25 feeder counts took part during a day starting out with fog and clouds with temperatures hovering near zero after the freezing rain of Boxing Day. In all of 41 species were seen and 4562 individuals counted. This is down 7 species and approx. 500 individuals from the 2008 year. Many of the smaller rural roads were difficult to drive and significant surface ice on the road sides made it treacherous in places to pull over on the shoulder. The highlights were 2 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Grackles, 15 Red-winged Blackbirds and a record number of Turkeys at 285. There were a goodly number of Bohemians Waxwings at 159 and as well 500 Snow Buntings seen just outside Carleton Place. At the end of the day a count-in was held where the teams shared sandwiches and refreshments while compiling the results and trading stories of their days outing. Complete individual species recorded for the 2009 Carleton Place Count were:

Canada Goose (30), Mallard (9), Goldeneye (50), Hooded Merganser (2), Bald Eagle (2), Cooper’s Hawk (3), Red-tailed Hawk (5), Rough-legged Hawk (1), Ruffed Grouse (10), Turkey (285), Ring-billed Gull (3), Rock Pigeon (697), Mourning Dove (192), Downy Woodpecker (44), Hairy Woodpeckers (39), Pileated Woodpecker (8), Northern Shrike (3), Blue Jay (244), Crow (382), Raven (12), Chickadee (839), Red-breasted Nuthatch (9), White-breasted Nuthatch (76), Brown Creeper (4), Robin (7), Starling (417), Bohemian Waxwing (159), Tree Sparrow (46), White-throated Sparrow (3), Junco (43), Snow Bunting (515), Cardinal (28), Red-winged Blackbird (15), Rusty Blackbird (1), Grackle (3), Purple Finch (5), House Finch (8), Common Redpoll (10), Pine Siskin (30), Goldfinch (246), and House Sparrow (78).

Thirty-one birders took to the roads and fields for the 7th Annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count, held on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009 to register every bird seen or heard within the fifteen kilometre radius circle centered on Watsons Corners. The Lanark Highlands count was led by Cliff Bennett, with Bruce LeGallais, Bobby Clarke, Ted Mosquin, and Gloria Opzoomer heading up the sections. Marj Montgomery organized and compiled reports from over sixteen feeder counters, to add to the total. At the end of the count day, participants convened to Nature Lovers Book Store in Lanark for the count-in and hot beverages.
The previous record of 188 turkeys, set in last year’s count easily surpassed this year’s 288. The continued build-up of wild turkeys in the area is now evident as each year of the count produces greater numbers. Total count for the circle was 3154 birds, lowest only to the first Lanark Highlands count of 2829 in 2003. A few dozen (76) evening grosbeaks were found, mostly in the Poland area, two dozen purple finches and only four redpolls showed up and no pine siskins, crossbills or pine grosbeaks were found. In spite of the low numbers, records were set for downy woodpeckers (77), Cooper’s hawk (4) and white-breasted nuthatches (101). New to the count was a brown thrasher, which was hanging around a feeder because of an injured wing and one northern harrier. Last year set a record at 4130 birds. Number of species found this year remained high at 38, two down from last year’s record listing of 40 species. Complete individual species recorded for the Lanark Highlands count were:

mallard duck (1), common merganser (10), ruffed grouse (4), wild turkey (288), bald eagle (3), sharp-shinned hawk (1), northern harrier (1), Cooper’s hawk (4), red-tailed hawk , rough-legged hawk (1), rock pigeon (210), mourning dove (98), barred owl (1), downy woodpecker (77), hairy woodpecker (89), pileated woodpecker (7), northern shrike (2), blue jay (224), crow (97), raven (30), black-capped chickadee (897), red-breasted nuthatch (25), white-breasted nuthatch (101), brown creeper (3), golden-crowned kinglet (1), brown thrasher (1), starling (97), Bohemian waxwing (93), tree-sparrows, (87), dark-eyed junco (55), snow bunting (166), cardinal (7), purple finch (26), house finch (6), common redpoll (4), goldfinch (334), evening grosbeak (76), house sparrow (13).

 

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

Press Release

January 2, 2010

Wild Turkeys Excel in Christmas Bird Count

A new record for signing up wild turkeys was registered in the 7th Annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count, held on Wednesday, Dec. 30. The previous record of 188 turkeys, set in last year’s count, was bested this year at 288. The continued build-up of wild turkeys in the area is now evident as each year of the count produces greater numbers. The Carleton Place Count also registered a record number of wild turkeys.

Thirty-one counters took to the field this year, to register every bird seen or heard within the fifteen kilometre radius circle centered on Watsons Corners. Organized and sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists and led by ERA columnist Cliff Bennett, the circle is divided into four equal pieces like a pie. Bruce LeGallais, Heron Mills Road, led section A; Bobby Clarke, Rosetta Road, headed section B; Ted Mosquin, Playfairville area, led Section C and Gloria Opzoomer, Bathurst 9th Conc. organized Section D.

Marj Montgomery, Drummond 12th line, organized and compiled reports from over sixteen feeder counters, to add to the total.

Numbers of birds counted this year were the second lowest in seven years, due mostly to the absence of winter finches from the northern Boreal Forest. A few dozen (76) evening grosbeaks were found, mostly in the Poland area, two dozen purple finches and only four redpolls showed up and no pine siskins, crossbills or pine grosbeaks were found. In spite of the low numbers, records were set for downy woodpeckers (77), Cooper’s |hawk (4) and white-breasted nuthatches (101). New to the count was a brown thrasher, which is hanging around a feeder because of an injured wing and one northern harrier.

Total count for the circle was 3154 birds, lowest only to the first count of 2829 in 2003.

Last year set a record at 4130 birds. Number of species found this year remained high at 38, two down from last year’s record listing of 40 species. Complete individual species recorded were mallard duck (1); common merganser (10, ruffed grouse (4), wild turkey (288), bald eagle (3); sharp-shinned hawk (1), northern harrier (1), Cooper’s hawk (4), red-tailed hawk #), rough-legged hawk (1); rock pigeon (210), mourning dove (98), barred owl (1), downy woodpecker (77), hairy woodpecker (89), pleated woodpecker (7), northern shrike (2), blue jay (224), crow (97), raven (30), black-capped chickadee (897), red-breasted nuthatch (25), white-breasted nuthatch (101), brown creeper (3), golden-crowned kinglet (1), brown thrasher (1), starling (97), Bohemian waxwing (93), tree-sparrows, (87), dark-eyed junco (55), snow bunting (166), cardinal (7), purple finch (26), house finch (6), common redpoll (4), goldfinch (334), evening grosbeak (76), house sparrow (13).

At the end of the count day, all participants convened to Nature Lovers Book Store in Lanark for the count-in and hot beverages. Refreshments were provided by store owner Mary Vandenhoff, assisted by Mary Dixon. 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 programmes.

CARLETON PLACE AND AREA BIRDERS TO TAKE PART IN
110th ANNUAL CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT

Birders and nature enthusiasts in Carleton Place and area will join birders across the western hemisphere and participate in Audubon’s longest-running wintertime tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), to be held on December 27th. This year, over 2,000 individual counts are scheduled to take place throughout the Americas and beyond from December 14, 2009 to January 5, 2010.

“Each CBC volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation,” says Dick Cannings, Bird Studies Canada’s Christmas Bird Count Coordinator. “Bird Studies Canada and our partners at the National Audubon Society in the United States, rely on data from the CBC database to monitor bird populations across North America.” During last year’s count, about 70 million birds were tallied by nearly 58,000 volunteers across the continent, which was a record number of observers. In Canada, 11,565 participants counted over 3.2 million birds on a record-high 371 counts.

The data gathered by all this work goes into a huge database used daily by biologists all over the world to monitor the populations and distribution of North American birds. Some of it is key evidence for serious declines; recently Christmas Bird Count data provided pivotal information in the decision to list the Newfoundland Red Crossbill and Rusty Blackbird under the federal Species At Risk Act.

The CBC began over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by scientist and writer Frank Chapman, changed the course of ornithological history. On Christmas Day in 1900, the small group posed an alternative to the “side hunt,” a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals. Instead, Chapman proposed that they identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the world’s most significant citizen-based conservation effort – and a more than century-old institution.

Since Chapman’s retirement in 1934, new generations of observers have performed the modern-day count. Today, over 55,000 volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Pacific Islands, count and record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area.

The 110th CBC is expected to be larger than ever, expanding its geographical coverage and accumulating information about the winter distributions of various birds. The CBC is vital in monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds across the Western Hemisphere, and the data, which are 100% volunteer generated, have become a crucial part of Canada’s natural history monitoring database.

The Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count takes place on Sunday, December 27th and it is organized by Iain Wilkes, who is also the official Carleton Place compiler for BSC and Georgina Doe co-ordinates all of the feeder counts. Volunteers are welcomed and you don’t need to be an expert but it helps to know the local birds. Participants will be placed in a team led by an experienced birder. You will need a pair of binoculars, a hot thermos and lunch. There is a $5 participation fee levied for each counter. For more information or to register, contact Iain Wilkes, 257-1126 or Home residents with bird feeders can also help by listing all birds at your feeder or in your yard on the count day. Feeder counters should register with Georgina Doe, 257-2103.

At the end of the day, count teams return to the Community Room upstairs at Steve’s Independent in Carleton Place on McNeely Avenue for the count-in as well as refreshments. We look forward to the December 27th count and best of the season to all.

-Iain Wilkes

The Messenger

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MVFN's natural history talks take place on 3rd Thursdays, Jan-April and Sept-November, at  Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte, ON. All welcome!

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