Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

2020 Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count Results




On December 27th, 2020 local Mississippi Valley and area volunteers took part in the 121th Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC).    The annual event is a worldwide citizen science project organized by Audubon and Birds Canada and it is 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. Volunteers record the number and the 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.

This year’s CBC was supported by 30 field and 29 feeder observers who recorded 8338 individual birds comprising 51 species.  The results are very close to our record levels of 8800 individuals and 52 species.   In addition, there were 4 count week species and 8 records tied or broken.

  • Green-winged Teal – found by Rene behind RONA – a first ever
  • Mallard – record high 95 with 83 from Mike’s CP town count
  • Bald Eagle at 7
  • Coopers Hawk – tied at 3
  • Raven – at 86
  • White-breasted Nuthatch at 265
  • Cardinal at 93
  • Eastern Towhee – continues at a local feeder

Ravens by: Sheila Craig and Redpoll by: Penny Osbourne

There were over 1300 Common Redpolls seen with a couple of Hoary Redpolls mixed in, as well there was good numbers of Bohemians and Raptors.  A couple of Red-winged Blackbirds and a Bluebird were still in the area (good spotting Mary – last time I remember it was you and Howard who brought home the Bluebirds).

Thank you one and all for your participation and excellent efforts.  A special thanks to the new participants (Natalika, Irena, Gerard, William and Sheila) and the return of Ron who did his traditional trail walk.  Best to all of you in 2021 and may all of your birding include at least one new species.

The complete list of sightings can be found on the MVFN website under the Birding menu as well as on the Audubon site within their CBC pages for all areas including ours which is designated by Audubon as “ONCP”.

Happy New Year to All of You.



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Birdhouse Auction



The winter weather may be for the birds, but there’s more for the birds coming soon.  The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists have stepped up to revive the birdhouse auction in early April to support of the Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary.

Imaginations can run wild, with creations in two categories; functional birdhouses made to attract specific birds, or decorative birdhouses made to elicit a smile or enhance a garden.  Any sort of structure, using any materials from string (think a knitted hummingbird nest) to steel  (think a house made of old licence plates), will be welcome. There will be a separate division for kids in each category, making this the prime opportunity for creative little hands to work on a new project.

To help get creative juices flowing, Gilligallou has books, kits, and ideas for builders to explore, along with wooden birdhouses and an array with different sized holes for different birds.  Check out the shop when you’re Christmas shopping for a unique gift that’ll keep giving through the winter months.

Further, Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists are selling Bluebird Nest Boxes ( for $20 with the money going to their Conservation and Habitat Rehabilitation Committee. The nest boxes can be decorated and entered into the contest or they also make nice Christmas gifts. To purchase a nest box contact Nick de Boer at  or 613 256-5963.

It is expected that the birdhouse auction will take place over the first two weeks of April, with houses displayed in various Mill Street locations where bids will be received.

More details will be announced in January through the Humm, the Millstone, MVFN website ( , or contact (613)256-6479.

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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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MVFN Fall Open House at the Almonte Lagoons Report 2020

MVFN conducted Open Houses at the Almonte Lagoons this fall.  A report of the species and numbers of individuals observed  during the open houses has been compiled and posted on the website.  The link to the report is on the Almonte Lagoons page which can be accessed through the Birding Page.  Thanks to Michel Gauthier for compiling the report and to all who participated.

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Share the Migration – Birdwatching with MVFN at the Almonte Lagoons

Wednesdays in September       3-5 p.m. 


During every fall migration, thousands of waterfowl stop to rest and feed at the Almonte Lagoons located behind the wastewater treatment plant on Wolf Grove Road. Birdwatchers eagerly visit this prime location in September and October, making it a regional hotspot. To enhance the viewing experience, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) maintain a woodland trail leading to an observation tower and a bird-viewing shelter overlooking the lagoon.

On four consecutive Wednesdays in September, MVFN invites you to walk in and witness this spectacle. Expert birders will be at the viewing shelter to talk about the birds and to provide the opportunity to learn the identity of the different birds’ species.

The first open house will take place on Wednesday, Sept 2 between 3 and 5 pm. Visitors are encouraged to bring binoculars (and a spotting scope if you have one). The next three open houses will take place on the following three WednesdaysSept 9, 16, and 23, all between 3 and 5 pm.

Directions to the viewing shelter: from Almonte, take Wolf Grove Road (County Rd. 16) towards Middleville. Drive 2 km and turn north onto Ramsay Conc. 8 at the Auld Kirk church. Drive approximately 100 m to the trailhead. The trail entrance is on Ramsay Conc.  8 across the road from the cemetery. A small yellow sign marks the entrance.


The following social distancing measures will apply:

  • Physical distances will be maintained at all times.
  • Facemasks covering mouth and nose will be worn inside the shelter. Outside the shelter, masks should be worn if physical distancing cannot be adequately maintained.
  • The Al Potvin Tower will be closed for this year’s session because there is not enough room to permit social distancing.

A maximum of 4 birdwatchers at a time will be allowed inside the Mike McPhail Viewing Shelter. If more than 4 birdwatchers are present, the extras watchers should view the birds from the area near the entrance of the shelter.


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