by Angus MacLean
This was the 97th Christmas Bird Count in North America and the 44th consecutive Wolfville Count. Initially, on December 25, 1900, 27 observers participated on 25 different Christmas Bird Counts. Since those first years, the number of counts have so grown in number and scope that, of course, not all counts can be held on Christmas, so there is a an official count period from mid-December to early January.
The period leading up to our Count Day, the 22nd, saw abnormally mild temperatures up to a couple of days before but colder weather froze the ponds, forcing out a number of waterfowl species. These include Eurasian and American Wigeon and Gadwall, all seen in the Count Period and species which would have been new to our Count. In fact 7 additional species were seen in the Count Period, likely a record. One unusual record was a Dusky Flycatcher, present since November 24 (or earlier), and completely off course from its breeding range in the Rockies to its wintering grounds in southern Mexico. Another rarity, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, was recorded for the third time!
On Count Day temperature ranged from -3C to +4C with partly sunny conditions and light winds. Participants included 53 observers in 25-28 field parties and another 75 at 62 feeders. Total party-hours was slightly down from last year’s effort but both kilometres by car and on foot was up considerably.
The total of 77 species was expected considering the preceding mild weather and with the 7 Count Period birds constituted the highest total ever recorded. The total number seen was 88,534, close to our provincial record of 92,412 seen in 1992. There were 5 species new to the count: Blue-winged Teal, American Coot, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Razorbill and Rufous-sided Towhee. This brought the total species seen since the Count’s inception to 145. There were low numbers of winter finches which was typical across most of the Maritimes and obviously due to the mild temperatures and abundant food supply farther north. There was only 1 Snow Bunting and I Bohemian Waxwing, lost souls separated from their flocks, but normally found here in larger numbers. Boreal Chickadees with a total of 40, set a new all-time high but were found through farmlands, migrating from their normal coniferous woodlands. Conversely Red-breasted Nuthatch numbers were quite low, perhaps indicating that most remain farther north. Although a Red-winged Blackbird was seen only in Count Week, several flocks of 50-75 were noted later, indicating birds mograting south from more northerly locales. Herring Gull numbers were much lower than in recent years, perhaps because of the Count being held on a Sunday when the Kentville landfill site was closed. The gulls may have moved outside the Count circle since only 230 were counted in that area.
The feeder-watchers contributed 35 species with the most interesting being the Rufous-sided Towhee at Tom Regan’s in Canard. His feeder also yielded a Baltimore Oriole. Eva Urban’s feeders at Avonport were the most productive with 20 species. In contrast the Wrights at North Alton has only 2 Black-capped Chickadees visit all day but were partially compensated by their regular flying squirrel.
The post-count gathering at Acadia was well attended as usual. The chowder, chili and desserts were greatly enjoyed by all. Thanks go to Judy Tufts, Lorna Hart and to the others who contributed to the event. Special thanks to the field observers for their effort and to all of those who checked their feeder that day. I would also like to thank Jim Wolford for coordinating and compiling the efforts of the feeder-watchers and to my wife, Stella, for checking the data.
Species List Red-throated Loon 2 Common Loon 2 Great Blue Heron 7 Canada Goose 471 Green-winged Teal 35 American Black Duck 1234 Mallard 195; Blue-winged Teal 1 Common Eider 4 Common Merganser 3 Bald Eagle 352 adult 140 immature 200 unknown age 12 Northern Harrier 13 Sharp-shinned Hawk 7 Red-tailed Hawk 151 Rough-legged hawk 13 Merlin 2; Hawk sp. 1 Ring-necked Pheasant 142 Ruffed Grouse 9 American Coot 1 Ring-billed Gull 499 Herring Gull 12,688 Iceland Gull 16 Lesser-Black-backed Gull 1 Great Black-backed Gull 1,749 Razorbill 1; Rock Dove 1027 Mourning Dove 910 Great-horned Owl 1 Barred Owl 3 Belted Kingfisher 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 Downy Woodpecker 67 Hairy Woodpecker 30 Northern Flicker 25 Pileated Woodpecker 11 Horned Lark 21 Gray Jay 5 Blue Jay 953 American Crow 31165 Common Raven 276 Black-capped Chickadee 1225 Boreal Chickadee 40 Red-breasted Nuthatch 26 White-breasted Nuthatch 38 Brown Creeper 13 Golden-crowned Kinglet 31 American Robin 242 Northern Mockingbird 2 Bohemian Waxwing 1 Northern Shrike 1 Orange-crowned Warbler Common Yellowthroat 2 warbler sp. (likely Nashville) 1 Northern Cardinal 1 Rufous-sided Towhee 1 American Tree Sparrow 141 Savannah Sparrow 23 Sharp-tailed Sparrow 1 Song Sparrow 186 Swamp Sparrow 6 White-throated Sparrow 93 White-crowned Sparrow 1 Dark-eyed Junco 1416 Snow Bunting 1 Common Grackle 2 Brown-headed Cowbird 42 Baltimore Oriole 2 Pine Groosbeak 3 Purple Finch 8 White-winged Crossbill 2 crossbill sp. 2 Common Redpoll 5 Pine Siskin 25 American Goldfinch 1031 Evening Grosbeak 67 House Sparrow 941 Total species...77. Total individuals....88534. Other species seen in Count Week.... Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon(3) American Wigeon Gray Partridge Dickcissel Red-winged Blackbird House Finch
Field Observers and Feeder-watchers Agar Adamson; George and Margaret Alliston; Peter Austin.Smith; Patricia Bernier; Ron and Joanne Bezanson; Diana Bishop; Sherman Boates; Larry Bogan; Soren Bondrup.Nielsen; Carol Buckley; Al Callaghan; Curtis Chipman; Joe and Clifford; John Cline; Brenda Coldwell; Sandy Connelly; Ed Connolly; Chris and Susan Cox;; Debbie and Jim Daigle; Andy, Gail and Pat Davis; Ed and Ev Eagles; Betty and Joan Eaton; Mark and Paul Elderkin; Wendy Elliott; Fred, George, George F. and Harold Forsyth; Bernard Forsythe; Jamie and Merritt Gibson; Terri Hall; Ed and Robie Hancock; Eileen and SharonHarris; Lorna Hart; John & Avril Harwood; Michael Hawkswood; Blanche Healy; Toby and Tom Herman; Maxine Hill; Bob Horne; Isobel, John and Winnie Horton; J.P. Huang; Douglas and Shirley Jackson; Ian Jonsen; Pat Kelly; Sandy Kempton; Jeanne Leung; Janet McClain; Angus and Stella MacLean; Ron Margeson; Shirley Marston; Bill and Pat Martell; Jessie Martin; Bernard and Eleanor Mason; Sheila McCurdy; Melissa and Rosaleen McDonald; Pat McLeod; Randy Milton; Terry Murphy; Edna Mutch; Gary Ness; Andy Nette; Nancy Nickerson; Mike O’Brien; Terry Pearson; Mary Pratt; Tom Regan; Ladny Richmond; Stan Riggs; Gordon Robart; Marg Russell; Barry Sabean; Gladys and Katherine Saltzman; Meg Scheid; Jack and Ruth Scott; Mabel Sheffield; Ada Smith; Richard Stern; George and Maeann Stevens; Miriam Tams; Phil Taylor; Bill and Brenda Thexton; Dianne Thorpe; Jean Timpa; David Tracey; Gerry Trueman; Gordon and Judy Tufts; Deanna and Eva Urban; Gertrude Waseem; Bob, Maggie and Sherman Williams; Jim Wolford; Frank Woolaver; Don, Irene and Jeni Wright; Barry, Betty and Chris Yoell.