Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

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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2010 Bird counts show record numbers of wild turkeys and plenty of others


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).


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Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count

MVFN sponsors two Christmas Bird Counts (CBC), the Carleton Place Count (December 27) and the Lanark Highlands Count (December 30).

We need helpers for both of these counts.

Here’s an opportunity to shake off the excesses from Christmas and, become a citizen scientist by helping to record our bird population in these two areas. If you have counted before, please consider coming out again this year. If you are a novice, come out anyway as the extra pairs of eyes are invaluable. In both cases, we will place you with a team leader, one who knows birds.

Dress warmly, bring a hot thermos, and a lunch (unless joining a group lunch in a local pub). Don’t forget your binoculars.
There is a cost of $5 per person to help defray cost of compiling results.

If you can’t come out, will you agree to count all of the birds that come to your feeders that day?

For the Carleton Place Count (includes Almonte), Saturday, Dec. 27, contact organizer Iain Wilkes at 613-257-1126 or

For Carleton Place feeder counting (includes Almonte), contact Georgina Doe at 613-.57-2103 or .

For the Lanark Highlands Count on Tuesday, Dec. 30, contact organizer
Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013 or .

For Lanark Highlands feeder counting, contact Marj Montgomery at 613-259-3078.

At the end of the day, Carleton Place count teams return to the Community Room upstairs at Steve’s Independent in Carleton Place for the count-in as well as refreshments and the Lanark Highlands count teams return to the Nature Lovers Book Store.

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Many Records Broken In Recent Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Census

Press Story
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
December 31, 2007
by Cliff Bennett

Many Records Broken In Recent Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Census

The fifth Annual Audubon Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, Dec. 30, under ideal winter conditions. Compared to last year when there was only a smattering of snow on the ground, this year’s deep snow made traveling off road somewhat difficult. In spite of this challenge, some surprising results occurred, including a record number of birds counted and the number of species listed increasing by one. Seven new records were broken and three completely ‘new-to-the-Lanark Highlands count’ species were listed.

Although there was some open water on the Mississippi River and into Dalhousie Lake, there were no water birds to be found this year, unlike last year where over 300 geese and a few ducks were registered. However, the twenty-three field observers and fourteen feeder counters persevered and managed to break the record for number of birds counted and species recorded. 4,005 individual birds counted this year surpassed 2004’s 3,717 and thirty-seven species beat 2005’s thirty-six species by one.

Individual records broken this year included wild turkeys, 123 (100 in 2005); mourning doves, 207 (139 in 2004); blue jays, 401 (342 in 2004) and pine grosbeaks, 132 (31 in 2004). All three woodpecker records were surpassed including downy woodpecker, 74 (52 last year); hairy woodpecker, 115 (80 in 2004) and pileated woodpecker, 12 (10 in 2004). Records were tied for sharp-shinned hawks (2) and white-throated sparrows (2). New species listed for the very first time in the count were Cooper’s hawk, grackle and cedar waxwings.

The count circle is centered on Watson’s Corners and covers a 15 km radius. The circle is divided into four equal ‘pieces of the pie’ and each was assigned a team leader, all local residents. Team A led by Bruce LeGallais included Don Brown (Kanata), Don McInerney, Pip Winters, Paul Frigon and Phil Laflamme. Team B led by Roberta Clarke, assisted by John Clarke, included Louis Frenette (Carleton Place), Lynda Bennett, Paul Sprague and Gloria Opzoomer. Team C was led by Claire Fisher and team members were George Fisher, Neil and Lucy Carleton, Jeff Mills, Jim and Yvonne Bendell and Lise Balthazar. Team D, led by Ted Mosquin, included Linda Mosquin and Mark Garbutt. Marjorie Montgomery organized and compiled the feeder counts. Project organizer and compiler was Lanark ERA columnist Cliff Bennett and the event was sponsored by Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN).

The highlight of the day as usual, was the count-in reception. Hosted by Mary Vandenhoff and staff at the Nature Lovers Book Store in Lanark, all members gathered to compare experiences, discuss the results compiled on a chart and enjoy excellent refreshments. In return for the hosting, MVFN will be making a financial contribution to the North Lanark Community Heath Centre.

MVFN wishes to thank and congratulate all participants. Complete results are as follows:

bald eagle 1; sharp-shinned hawk 2; Cooper’s hawk 2; red-tailed hawk 1; rough-legged hawk 2; ruffed grouse 3; wild turkey 123; rock pigeon 198; mourning dove 207; barred owl 2; downy woodpecker 74; hairy woodpecker 115; pileated woodpecker 12; northern shrike 1; blue jay 401; common crow 93; raven 45; chickadee 986; red-breasted nuthatch 20; white-breasted nuthatch 84; golden-crowned kinglet 3; starling 189; cedar waxwing 4′ Bohemian waxwing 90; tree sparrow 51; dark-eyed junco 41; white-throated sparrow 2; snow bunting 179; cardinal 14; common grackle 1; pine grosbeak 132; purple finch 10; house finch 6; common redpoll 466; goldfinch 132; evening grosbeak 288; house sparrow 37.

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Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count 2005

Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count 2005

Carleton Place Count: click for detailed statistics  – species seen and their numbers by sector within the count circle.

The 62nd annual Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count took place on Tuesday December 27th 2005. The count area is a circle of 15 miles diameter centered on the bridge over the Mississippi River in Carleton Place and included Almonte, most of Ramsay and Beckwith, some of Drummond and an adjacent part of the City of Ottawa . In the morning the sky was clear with a temperature of -8°C and in the afternoon it was -3°C and cloudy. There was lots of snow on the ground but mild weather beforehand resulted in many streams and the Mississippi River being more open than usual. 39 field observers and 31 feeder operators took part.

The number of species seen was 47, which is above average. The number of birds counted was 7473, which is also above average. The all-time highs are 50 species and 8855 birds. No new species for the count were tallied, but the first American Black Duck since 1995 was found on the Mississippi near the Highway 7 bridge, the second-only Golden Eagle was seen near Ashton, and the second-only Carolina Wren was seen at a feeder in Carleton Place, the first since 1975.

There were also record highs counts of the following species:

Common Goldeneye 64 (previous high 43 in 1991)

Wild Turkey 169 (previous high 72 in 2004)

Barred Owl 2 (tied previous highs)

Black-capped Chickadee 1320 (previous high 1230 in 1994).

The count was organized by Cliff Bennett. At the end of the day the field observers gathered at the 7 West Cafe to see the field results displayed. Georgina Doe organized the feeder counts and Mike Jaques compiled the final results. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists sponsored the count.Team leaders in the field were Iain Wilkes, Mike Jaques of Carleton Place, Tine Kuiper, Lynda Bennett, of Ramsay; Brenda Carter, Merrickville, Al Potvin, Allan Goddard, Pip Winters, Almonte, Don Brown, Kanata, Arnie Simpson, Beckwith.

A list of all species seen and their numbers follows:

Canada Goose 14

American Black Duck 1

Mallard 5

Common Goldeneye 64

Common Merganser 5

Bald Eagle 1

Sharp-shinned Hawk 1

Northern Goshawk 1

Red-tailed Hawk 2

Rough-legged Hawk 2

Golden Eagle 1

Ruffed Grouse 3

Wild Turkey 169

Rock Pigeon 891

Mourning Dove 233

Barred Owl 2

Downy Woodpecker 77

Hairy Woodpecker 81

Pileated Woodpecker 4

Northern Shrike 6

Blue Jay 447

American Crow 390

Common Raven 11

Horned Lark 7

Black-capped Chickadee 1320

Red-breasted Nuthatch 12

White-breasted Nuthatch 116

Brown Creeper 3

Carolina Wren 1

Golden-crowned Kinglet 6

European Starling 541

Bohemian Waxwing 850

Cedar Waxwing 55

Eastern Towhee 1

American Tree Sparrow 119

Song Sparrow 1

White-throated Sparrow 2

Dark-eyed Junco 80

Snow Bunting 1123

Northern Cardinal 48

Red-winged Blackbird 2

Pine Grosbeak 27

Purple Finch 3

House Finch 3

Common Redpoll 276

Pine Siskin 39

American Goldfinch 295

Evening Grosbeak 97

House Sparrow 91

Also seen in the count week, but not on the day, were Cooper’s Hawk, American Kestrel and Merlin.

Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count

The following is from Cliff Bennett, compiler of the Lanark Highlands CBC, which is centred on the village of Watson’s Corners, NW of Lanark Village in Lanark County:

The 3rd Annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count took place on Friday, Dec. 30. The weather was mild, with partly sunny skies and little or no winds. However, the back country roads were very icy and getting out to walk was downright treacherous. The count yielded a lower tally than last year, probably much to do with the icy walking conditions.

Twenty-five counters took to the field and recorded 36 different species , one more than last year’s record. However, the total number of individual birds was over 400 fewer than last year. The real success story though, was the count from eleven different feeder observers spread around the circles.
They listed 719 birds, up about 350 from last year’s count.

Three new species for the count were recorded; a goshawk, two Canada geese and a red-breasted merganser. One species conspicuous by its absence was the great gray owl and significantly lower scores than last year were listed for ruffed grouse, hairy woodpecker, blue jays, crows, chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, Bohemian waxwings and pine grosbeaks.

New records were set for wild turkeys (100), rock pigeons, red-breasted nuthatches, juncoes, pine siskins, American goldfinch and house sparrows.

Pakenham-Arnprior Counts: click for detailed statistics

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