Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

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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Interesting year for Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count


By Marilyn Barnett, MVFN member and Count Coordinator

Count day results list

On December 30th, 2015 the 13th year of the annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count (CBC), 3023 birds were recorded. This number is well down from the record of 4276 birds seen in the 2010 count, but up from last year’s lowest CBC numbers of 2640 birds.  However, the total number of species counted this year was forty, almost breaking the record of forty-two different species of birds seen during the 2012 Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count.

This year was still exciting with several record highs:

Two Common loons were seen on Dalhousie Lake. One loon was seen in 2004 but none during the count since then. Nine Common golden-eye ducks were spotted on the open water of Dalhousie Lake, up from the three seen in 2003. Seventy-seven Common mergansers were spotted, up from the seven seen in 2013; and thirteen Hooded mergansers were seen, up from one seen in 2011. One Merlin was seen, equaling the single ones recorded in 2008 and 2011; and four Common grackles were seen, up from two seen in 2008.

Common Mergansers Howard Robinson

Mergansers seen during last year’s count. Photo Howard Robinson.

There were also some new species recorded this year:

An amazing 177 Snow geese and sixteen red-winged blackbirds were recorded, neither species having been seen before on the Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count. The milder weather right up to count day most likely explains this!

Birds seen during count week include four bald eagles and a Northern shrike. Lows for the 2015 count were ruffed grouse, blue jays, common raven, snow buntings. Also, no waxwings, grosbeaks, or kinglets were seen at all this year.  There is always next year!

This year there were thirty-one field counters: stalwart folk tramping along country roads and into fields and up to feeders (those not being monitored by feeder counters) from early morning until 3:30 in the afternoon. We had thirty-eight field counters signed up but unfortunately seven were unable to attend due to the sudden heavy snowfall. They were unable to get out of their driveways. There were only eight feeder counters this year which may also explain the lower overall numbers.  Participation from our Young Naturalist’s was new this year and we had two avid young people wanting to learn more about birds in Lanark.

Sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, the annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count takes place every December 30th no matter the weather.  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 leader.  Thanks to Bruce LeGallais, Bobby Clarke, Lise Balthazar and Pip Winters who have all served as section leaders for many years.  All of the volunteer leaders, field and feeder 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 was able to see the results as they came in, and to Cliff Bennett for his helpful commentary and contribution throughout.

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 data complier 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 the list for December 30th, 2016.




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Audubon Christmas Bird Count in Lanark Highlands

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

November 26, 2013

Join 114th Audubon Christmas Bird Counting tradition as part of  Carleton Place or Lanark Highlands count

Birders and nature enthusiasts in Carleton Place and Lanark Highlands areas will soon 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 Friday, December 27th. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will once again sponsor this bird count. 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. The Lanark Highlands count, also sponsored by MVFN, will take place a few days later on Monday, December 30th. Details for both counts will be posted on the website.

This year, over 2,000 individual counts are scheduled to take place throughout the Americas and beyond between December 14, 2012 and January 5, 2013. “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.” Last year, during the 2012 Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count over 50 volunteers spent the day observing birds resulting in the recording of nearly 5000 birds and 56 different species. The first Audubon bird count in Carleton Place took place in 1944.

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 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.

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 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 613-257-1126 or . If you are interested in helping out by counting birds at your feeder for the Carleton Place count, please register with Georgina Doe at 613- 257-2103. At the end of the Carleton Place count day, field participants will return to the Community Room upstairs at Steve’s Independent in Carleton Place on McNeely Avenue for the count-in as well as refreshments.

For more information or to register for the Lanark Highlands CBC please contact Marilyn Barnett at 613-259-2269 or .

Best of the Season to All!



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Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count

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 

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