Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Local Area Christmas Bird Counts

 

 

Announcement by Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

 

Once again it is the Audubon Christmas Bird Count season!  This is the 121th year of Christmas Bird Counts and there are three planned for our area; Rideau Ferry, Carleton Place, and Lanark Highlands. Birders and nature enthusiasts in the three CBCs and surrounding areas can join citizen scientists throughout the world and participate in the Audubon Society’s longest-running wintertime tradition, the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  Thousands of individuals participate in counts beyond between December 14 and January 5 each year. Every CBC volunteer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation.  Birds Canada and its partner, the National Audubon Society in the United States rely on data from the CBC database to monitor bird populations.

The CBC tradition 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 proposed 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 suggested 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.   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.  This year will be very different as the counts will need to be done in line with all local health guidelines regards COVID 19.    For the count day it means first and foremost no one should participate unless they are showing no symptoms and feel safe doing a day in the field.  Secondly, field observers should only share the same vehicle with others if they are safe doing so. Thirdly all participates should have a mask available whenever required.  Finally, there will be no count meeting at the end of the day.  Instead each coordinator will arrange to distribute the results to participants. For more information or to register for the CBC at any of the 3 count circles please contact one of the following CBC Coordinators:

Count Date CBC Coordinator Contact
Rideau Ferry Dec 19th Alison Bentley
Carleton Place Dec 27th Iain Wilkes
Lanark Highlands Dec 30th Jeff Mills

Best of the Season to All

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2019 Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count  – Final Tally

The 16th annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count (LHCBC) took place on January 4th, 2020. The normal annual date of December 30th had to be changed due to freezing rain conditions.

The total number of birds counted and recorded this year was 3008 birds, lower than the highest count, in 2010, of 4276, but only 3 fewer than 2017. The total number of species recorded was 35, 4 more than last year. Over the sixteen years of conducting the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count, which started in 2003, a total of seventy-five species has been recorded. The lower number of species can generally be attributed to the absence of waterfowl in the area on count day owing to the severe cold weather and freeze-up of most water areas.   This year, although there was some open water on Mississippi River and Dalhousie Lake, there were no water birds reported.

By L. Balthazar

There was a good count of bald eagles (around 7) although not a record. The record was two years ago (2017) with a count of 17. All other raptors were absent except two red-tailed hawks, a Cooper’s hawk and five barred owls.

The feeder count had the same number of species as last year (23) but over 400 fewer birds. It was a good year for ruffed grouse (16). The record was in 2013 (38).  This year’s count was the third best for blue jays (586). The record was 641 in 2013.  This was only the third year that white-winged crossbills were spotted.  All other birds in the finch family were absent except goldfinches. They are still up north in the Boreal forest because of an excellent food source.

Sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count (LHCBC) takes place every December 30th no matter the weather except this year. The field counters take to the roads and fields to register every bird seen or heard within a twelve kilometer radius centered on Watson’s Corners. The circle is divided into four equal sections each with a Section leader.  Special thanks to Ian Paige, Jeff Mills, Ramsey Hart, Rémy Poulin and Pip Winters who serve as Section Leaders, and to Lise Balthazar who organizes the Feeder Count.   Everyone did a great job especially when we had to suddenly change the date. All of the volunteer leaders, feeder counters, field counters and coordinators are to be commended for spending the entire day as citizen-scientists. 

Thank you to Michel Gauthier for setting up his laptop and screen at the Lanark Civitan Club and entering the data so that everyone is able to see the results as they come in, and to Cliff Bennett for doing the final audit of the results. His contribution throughout the count since the Lanark Highlands count began, including his inspiration and encouragement to area birders, is immeasurable. 

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 programs. For further information or a complete list of the tally, please contact Cliff Bennett at or count coordinator Marilyn Barnett at .  If you know birds by sight or sound and would like to participate in next year’s count, please get in touch in early December 2020.

Submitted by Marilyn Barnett

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Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count Results

On December 27th, 2019 local Mississippi Valley and area volunteers took part in the 120th Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The annual event is a worldwide citizen science project organized by Audubon, Birds Canada and supported by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists. The event involves the surveying of bird populations within thousands of predefined areas, each roughly 450 square km. It was a foggy mild day when volunteers recorded the number and species type of each bird seen anywhere within a 12 km radius circle centered on the Carleton Place downtown bridge. The recorded sightings are valuable data provided to Audubon for their ongoing research into changes and distributions of bird populations.

Merlin – Photo by Remy Poulin

This year CBC was supported by 34 field and 27 feeder observers who recorded 5326 individual birds comprising 44 species. The results are very close to the 10-year average. Highlights were a first ever Winter Wren heard singing outside of Almonte as well as a record number of White-breasted Nuthatches (194) and Pileated Woodpeckers (21) seen. A wide range of raptors were observed including Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk as well as Barred Owl and Northern Hawk Owl. Due to abundant seeds this year in the northern boreal forest, many finches did not come south resulting in very few being seen in our area. The complete list of sightings can be found at CP CBC Results 2019  as well as on the Audubon site within their CBC pages for all areas including ours which is designated by Audubon as “ONCP”.

At the end of the day field observers gathered at the Carleton Place Library to share stories and pictures as well as submit their results to Iain Wilkes the local CBC Coordinator. Many thanks to the MVFN Social Committee volunteers, Suzanne and Jane, who provide much needed refreshment and snacks.

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120th Audubon Christmas Bird Count

 

Once again it is the Audubon Christmas Bird Count season! This is the 120th year of Christmas Bird Counts and there are three planned for our area; Rideau Ferry, Carleton Place, and Lanark Highlands.

Birders and nature enthusiasts in the three CBCs 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).

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 and everyone is welcome. You will need a pair of binoculars. As well residents with bird feeders within a count area can also help by listing all birds at their feeder or in their yard on count day.

This year we will be without the participation of Howard Robinson due to his sudden passing. He supported the area CBCs for many years and dedicated countless hours to MVFN activities which he led and/or participated in. His smile, enthusiasm and many excellent pictures of birds will be missed. I know all of us are remembering him fondly and he will be a constant presence looking through our binoculars during each count.

The highlight from a past CP CBC 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

Thousands of individuals participate in counts throughout the Americas and beyond between December 14 and January 5 each year. Every CBC volunteer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation. Birds Canada and its partner, the National Audubon Society in the United States rely on data from the CBC database to monitor bird populations.

The CBC tradition 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 proposed 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 suggested 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. The first Audubon bird count in Carleton Place took place in 1944.

Count                                   Date                                 CBC Coordinator                                           Contact

Rideau Ferry                     Dec 14th                             Alison Bentley                                 
Carleton Place                   Dec 27th                            Iain Wilkes                                       
Lanark Highlands            Dec 30th                            Marilyn Barnett                                

 

Best of the Season to All

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Birds report, MVFN Canonto Lake Paddle

NOTE: Watch the website and MVFN’s Facebook page for details of our next MVFN paddle, July 28, 2019.

Submitted by Howard Robinson, MVFN Birding Committee

On June 23, 2019 we canoed/kayaked Canonto Lake and birded by sight and sound from the water on a Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ outing, led by Cliff Bennett. There were 8 vessels, and 12 people in the party, but not all our time was spent birding.

Below is a list of bird species, and respective counts, that were seen or heard. The list has been submitted to eBird and shared with our MVFN birding account as an historical record.

 

Canonto Lake Paddle, June 23, 2019 photo H. Robinson

A faulty/deadly loon platform, Canonto Lake, observed on June 23 paddle. photo H. Robinson

eBird Checklist – 23 Jun 2019 – Canonto Lake, – 23 Species

8 Wood Duck

6 Mallard (4 of the 6 mallards were ducklings)

2 Sandhill Crane  (seen flying over the lake)

3 Ring-billed Gull

4 Common Loon

7 Great Blue Heron

4 Turkey Vulture

2 Belted Kingfisher

1 Northern Flicker

4 Red-eyed Vireo

3 Tree Swallow

3 Barn Swallow

2 Black-capped Chickadee

2 White-breasted Nuthatch

2 Hermit Thrush

3 American Robin

2 Chipping Sparrow

6 Song Sparrow

40 Red-winged Blackbird

6 Common Grackle

4 Ovenbird

1 Yellow Warbler

2 Scarlet Tanager

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