by W. D. McIlveen –
In contrast to the weather experienced for the 2013 Christmas Bird Count in the aftermath of the ice storm that year, the weather for the 24th annual Christmas Bird Count on December 27, 2014 was quite delightful. Although there was a very brief light shower around noon, the lack of snow made for excellent survey conditions. The temperatures that got to approximately 10C in the afternoon were probably the second highest in the 24 years that the survey has been undertaken. The survey had a new high total of 33 participants.
The results of the tally for Count Day and Count Week are summarized in the attached table. The number of species reported was 60 plus one hybrid, which exceeds the previous high of 57 species seen in 2003. Despite the large increase in numbers of Canada Geese (over half of the total), the total birds was 8413. The total of counted birds was lower than the long term average by more than 1300. Six species (Ruffed Grouse, Snowy Owl, Golden-crowned Kinglet, American Robin, White-throated Sparrow, and Pine Siskin) made the final list but were not tallied on Count Day.
Eight species were present in new high numbers. These included Trumpeter Swan (2), Northern Shoveler (7), Bufflehead (2), Common Goldeneye (22), Cooper’s Hawk (7), Eastern Screech Owl (6), Red-bellied Woodpecker (18), and Common Raven (4). Twenty-six species were present in numbers below average. The single Common Redpoll was the lowest count recorded to date when the species is actually present; however, this is a highly-eruptive species with numbers as high as 1670 in 1997 and present only about every other year.
The unusually warm conditions and lack of snow in combination with extra observers likely affected the overall results. The lack of snow would cause fewer birds to require food from feeders though most feeders observed were not filled. Despite the annual variability in numbers observed over the duration of the Halton Hills Count, we can conclude that numbers of Canada Geese, Common Raven and Red-bellied Woodpecker are increasing while the numbers of American Kestrel have declined.
Thanks to the following participants: Ray Blower, Alexis Buset, Mark Cranford, Melissa Creassey, Emily Dobson, Kim Dob-son, Ramona Dobson, Pam Forsythe, Ann Fraser, Sandy Gillians, Ian Jarvie, Aaron Keating, Dan MacNeal, Lou Marsh, Merle Marsh, Katie McDonnell, Bill McIlveen, Irene McIlveen, Matt Mills, Dan Pearson, Johanna Perz, Fiona Reid, Dawn Renfrew, Don Scallen, Adhara Collins Scholten, Yves Scholten, Dan Schuurman, Rick Stroud, Janice Sukhiana, Patrick Tuck, George Wilkes, Marge Wilkes, Dave Willams.
Many thanks once more to Larry May for arranging access to the Maple Lodge Farms property and to Fiona Reid for hosting the wrap-up session.