Thursday, May 19, 2022

Bird count includes some record breaking numbers in Wallaceburg

The 37th annual Wallaceburg Christmas Bird Count, held on December 27, 2021, included “a few record high counts” for a few species.

Steve Charbonneau, a resident of Erie Beach who compiled the information, told the Sydenham Current the purpose of the count is to track numbers of species and individual birds annually, looking for patterns and to assist in conservation biology.

“For most of us who participate, however, it provides recreation and enjoyment with our birdwatching hobby,” Charbonneau said, adding that the initiative is loosely associated with the Sydenham Field Naturalists.

Charbonneau said the National Audubon Society conducts a census of birds of North America every year and it has become known as the Christmas Bird Count.

“Our latest count (in Wallaceburg), done during the time of COVID, was very successful,” he said.

“We normally find more species when the weather has been colder and the St. Clair River has ice floes. The weeks leading up to this year’s count were quite warm, so finding 83 species with only 16 participants was fantastic.

Charbonneau said the count was completed in a 15 mile diameter circle, centered a bit north of Wallaceburg, including a part of Walpole Island.

The day of count had light snow, 0°C temperature, diminishing east winds, 2-5 cm of fresh snow and all water was open given the warm conditions in late December, Charbonneau added.

The group had 16 people in the field and six feeder watchers.

The Number of species seen was 83.

“Which is just above the average for the past 10 years… record high 89 species in 2005,” Charbonneau said, adding a total of 13,996 birds were counted overall.

“No new count species were seen this year, but there were a few record high counts for a few species.”

The record high numbers, included:

– White-winged scoter – two

– Turkey vulture, seven

– Northern harrier, 33

– Bald eagle, 16

– Merlin, two

– Marsh wren, six

– American goldfinch, 382

Charbonneau said some rare or unusual species seen were one double-crested cormorant, one golden eagle and one yellow-headed blackbird.

Charbonneau added some other species “that the public might find interesting” included: 52 sandhill cranes, two snowy owls, three short-eared owls, one peregrine falcon, 30 tufted titmouse, nine eastern bluebirds and only one American robin.

Charbonneau said for a more comprehensive understanding and history of the Christmas Bird Count , visit the National Audubon Society website, here.

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