Christmas Bird Count

January 04, 2016

Redpolls & SparrowsRedpolls & SparrowsRedpolls and song sparrows atop a dragon's claw willow.

For many years I've participated in the Christmas Bird Count organized jointly by the Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada. The count runs from mid-December to January 4 and local organizers pick a day during that time period, rally team leaders and then count up the results. Weather conditions, winds and tides are a key part of count numbers. I find that I see more hawks on windy days and that packed snow cover results in fewer waterfowl sitings.  When the tides swell, the coves along the river naturally contain more mallards, black ducks, golden eyes and buffleheads. As the river widens into the basin I usually spot more scoters and scaups. Some years, if I'm lucky, I'll spot a raft of eiders. Yesterday, high tide occurred at dawn and dusk, so visibility wasn't great for waterfowl sitings, and the winds were calm so I saw fewer hawks. But I did see more cardinals around the beaver pond than in previous years and more redpolls and waxwings overall. Throughout the day jays, song sparrows and finches overwhelmed the feeders.