Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

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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Severe cold during Lanark Highlands Bird Count sets interesting records

On December 30th, 2017 the 15th year of the annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count, the total number of birds counted was 3419, lower than the highest count of 4276 in 2010. The number of different species found was 31, the lowest in all 15 years of the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count.

All across the province, lower numbers of birds were recorded, probably due to frigid temperatures, although the number of different species seen has come in quite high, almost normal. The average numbers of birds recorded on the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird count day is 3520.  Over the fifteen years of conducting the count, a total of seventy-eight different species have been recorded. The Lanark Highlands count is one of three local counts sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (other MVFN counts are the Rideau Ferry Christmas Bird Count an the Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count which includes Almonte).

The somewhat low number of species counted this year can generally be attributed to the absence of waterfowl in the area owing to the severe cold weather and freeze-up of most water areas.   Another factor compared to previous years may be the lower number of observers available on count day. At least one couple had to decline on short notice owing to illness. Also, there may have been less walking overall due to cold temperatures.

We had two new species this year to set two new records:  two Lapland longspurs were seen and photographed as well as a winter wren. While blue jays (565) were most plentiful they did not break the record of 641 in 2013.   Dark-eyed Juncos (456) did however set a record compared with the 276 seen in 2013.

Aside from the bald eagles, there were only three other raptors counted this year, an almost low number for this count. The usual high for raptors is around thirty.

So far the count-week birds are a lonely Canada goose (1) seen on Dec 29th 2017, plus a Northern shrike (1) and a red-tailed hawk (1).

The official listing for this year’s count is as follows;

ruffed grouse (23); wild turkeys (262); bald eagles (10); golden eagle (1); red-tailed hawk (2); rock pigeon (138); mourning doves (190); barred owl (1); downy woodpecker (55); hairy woodpecker (73); pileated woodpecker (6); blue jay (565); crow (122); ravens (53); black-backed chickadees (518); red-breasted nuthatches (21); white-breasted nuthatches (56); brown creepers (2); winter wren (1); robins (5); starlings (91); cedar waxwing (1); tree sparrows (140); juncos (456); Lapland longspurs (2); snow buntings (185); cardinals (15); purple finch (9); common redpoll (12); pine siskins (35); goldfinch (369).

click here for pdf of detailed results for 2017 Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count

Sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, the annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count (LHCBC) takes place every December 30th, no matter the weather.  The field counters take to the roads and fields to register every bird seen or heard within a fifteen-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, Lise Balthazar and Pip Winters who served as Section Leaders, and to Marj Montgomery who organizes the Feeder Count.  All the volunteer leaders, counters and coordinators are to be commended.

Special thanks to Howard Robinson for setting up his laptop and screen at the Lanark Civitan Club and entering the data so that everyone could see the results as they came in, and to Cliff Bennett for doing the final compilation of the results and his contribution throughout the count, not to mention his encouragement to area birders.

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 Bird Studies Canada and the Audubon Society and used for research and conservation programs. For further information please contact compiler 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 contact Marilyn to be added to her list for the December 30th, 2018 LHCBC.

by Cliff Bennett and Marilyn Barnett

 

Lapland longspur

Lapland longspur photographs from count day by M. Gauthier

Winter wren hiding in blue spruce on count day. photo H. Robinson

Clear skies and severe cold on the by-ways during the Lanark Highlands count

 

 

 

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Record number of species on 2017 Rideau Ferry Christmas Bird Count

In contrast to two other local counts sponsored by MVFN (on December 27 and 30), the Rideau Ferry Christmas Bird Count was held in relatively good weather on December 16, 2017 and a record number of 58 species were counted! The Rideau Ferry count was one of three Audubon Christmas Bird Counts sponsored by MVFN within the local area (others counts 2017 Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count and the 2017 Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count).

Alison Bentley: “It was a record count with 58 species, which all goes to prove that the compiler (yours truly) should go away more often and miss the actual day of the count! Weather was nice, and we had some really good experienced birders join up, so the combination of the two led to great sightings. This photo by Howard and Mary Robinson kind of sums it all up – snow, some open water and a Mallard just hanging out. Also one of the Gray Catbird which, along with Northern Pintail and Double-crested Cormorant was new for the count, and of course an excellent winter sighting. Thanks to the Route 3 team of Mark Gawn and Marc Bosc for these observations. Unfortunately, the catbird was visibly shivering, and its survival seemed unlikely.”

The chart below the photos, summarizes results of the 4396 birds counted and was prepared by count compiler Alison Bentley. Or click here for a pdf of these 2017 Rideau Ferry Christmas Bird Count results.

Male Mallard, photo courtesy Howard and Mary Robinson

Gray Catbird was visibly shivering, photo Marc Gawn

Results compiled by Alison Bentley

 

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14th Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) have taken place in the Western Hemisphere since 1900. In the local area there are four count circles (7 1/2-mile radius) which are active, including Carleton Place, Rideau Ferry, and Lanark Highlands CBC’s, all sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, and the Pakenham-Arnprior CBC. For information on the Carleton Place CBC or Rideau Ferry CBC’s follow these links. For information on the Pakenham-Arnprior CBC visit the Macnamara Field Naturalists website.

The Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count began in 2003 and filled a large gap in North Lanark County bird census. The Lanark Highlands count is centered on Watson’s Corners and takes in Brightside to the north, most of Dalhousie Lake to the west, south to within a kilometre of Balderson and east to include Middleville.  The Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count is always on December 30th which this year falls on a Saturday.

Great Horned Owl. photo Howard Robinson

The Christmas Bird Count is conducted by interested birders who are formed into teams each with a 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 across the entire Western Hemisphere and is used for many research and conservation programs designed to encourage the continuing health of our avian friends.

Field Count: All persons interested in gathering data on our local bird population are invited to join in the field 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 for lunch on George Street in Lanark at noon to warm up and share stories before heading out for a few more hours of counting. At 3:30 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 tally their findings, enjoy hot refreshments and some tasty goodies and watch the final count numbers as they come in. This is a fun and important day as we keep track of and record our local bird populations for research purposes.  If you have not participated before and would like to register for the field count, please contact Marilyn, preferably by e-mail at ,  or call her at 613-259-2269.

Yard/Feeder Count: Residents in the count circle area who have active bird feeders may like to take part in the count as a feeder counter by spending a few hours documenting birds at their feeders. Feeder Counters must register before Christmas with Feeder Count Coordinator Marj Montgomery, preferably by email at or by leaving a message at 613-259-3078.  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., send (preferably by email) your results to Marj or leave her a message.  These numbers will be totalled and added to the main count from the field observations.

Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count coordinator is Marilyn Barnett. Howard Robinson enters all the data into our central data base. Complier of the data is Cliff Bennett who submits the data to Bird Studies Canada.

 

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MVFN Sponsors 13th Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count

December 30, 2016

Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) 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 12 years, since 2003. This year will be the thirteenth count. Designed to fill a large gap in Lanark County, the LHCBC, sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN), is centred 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 30th and this year it falls on a Friday.

The Christmas Bird Count is conducted by interested birders who are formed into teams each with a 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 across the entire Western Hemisphere 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 for lunch on George Street in Lanark at noon to warm up and share stories before heading out for a few more hours of counting. At 3:30 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 some tasty goodies and watch the final count numbers as they come in. This is a fun and important day as we keep track of and record our local bird populations for research purposes.

Residents in the count circle area who have active bird feeders may like to take part in the count as a feeder counter by spending a few hours documenting birds at their feeders. Feeder Counters must register with Feeder Coordinator, Marj Montgomery, before Christmas by email at or leave a message for her at 613-259-3078.  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 leave her a message.  These numbers will be totalled and added to the main count from the field observations.

Count coordinator is Marilyn Barnett. Howard Robinson enters all the data into our central data base. Complier of the data is Cliff Bennett. If you have not participated before and would like to register for the field count, please contact Marilyn preferably by e-mail at or call her at 613-259-2269.

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