Results of the North Bay Christmas Bird Count, conducted by the Nipissing Naturalists Club's Bird Wing, show Blue Jay numbers down but Red-tailed Hawk numbers at a record high.
The Christmas Bird Count is one of the most exciting events in the bird calendar according to a release from the group.
"It is a count that has been running continuously in North America since 1900 and in North Bay for the last 44 years. It is one of the world’s largest and most important wildlife surveys," says Renee Levesque, Bird Wing Scribe and Coordinator. "Conservation biologists and naturalists use the data collected to assess population trends and the distribution of birds."
This year, for the 44th year locally, 23 field surveyors and 23 feeder watchers, found 37 bird species and 3,449 individual birds within a 24 km diameter circle of North Bay, a circle that is fixed, staying the same year after year. To view the circle and get contact information, check out Christmas Bird Count on Nipissing Naturalists Club’s website.
"Each December, we call on the bird watchers of North Bay -- both members of the Nipissing Naturalists Club and all other bird lovers alike -- to participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count
"By far, and not surprisingly, the most species seen were Black-capped Chickadees, 660 individuals, followed by 366 Mallards, 413 European Starlings, 257 Evening Grosbeaks,191 Common Ravens, 124 American Goldfinch, and 139 American Crows."
Because Trout Lake still had open water on the day of the bird count, in addition to Mallards and a couple of American Black Ducks, other ducks were more plentiful than usual with 24 Hooded Mergansers, 18 Common Goldeneye, and 2 Common Mergansers.
Although Canada Geese are plentiful during the summer and early fall, they are not often seen during the Christmas Bird Count. This year, three were found in Trout Lake. Gulls also are not often seen during the count, but perhaps because of the warmer weather preceding the count and the open lake, 24 Herring Gulls were spotted.
Blue Jay numbers were down. Only 53 were found in this count, compared with 195 in 2021. However, there have been other low counts. In 2016, only 39 were seen, but as many as 665 have been seen in other years.
Surprising finds were two American Robins, one Brown Thrasher, one Red-bellied Woodpecker, one Gray Catbird, four Common Grackles, and three Northern Cardinals, although even more cardinals were seen throughout Nipissing region up until then.
"It would certainly seem their numbers are increasing here," says the release.
Bald Eagle numbers were 14, down somewhat from last year, but Red-tailed Hawk numbers at three were a record high.
"Other nice finds were 80 Bohemian Waxwings, 55 Pine Grosbeaks, 37 Mourning Doves, 36 Common Redpolls, 19 Pine Siskins, two Brown Creepers, five American Tree Sparrows and two Dark-eyed Juncos, the only sparrows seen."
There were more White-breasted Nuthatches seen this count than Red-breasted Nuthatches, and more Hairy Woodpeckers than Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers.
There were some noticeable misses says the report.
"No owls, Canada Jays, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Purple Finch, Red Crossbills, White-winged Crossbills and, surprisingly, no Snow Buntings were seen."
The numbers were supplied by Lori Anderson, Christmas Bird Count Compiler.
You can help next year if you have a bird feeder in your yard.
"We're grateful for the extra eyes on feeders across the area within the North Bay count circle for each Christmas Bird Count," says Anderson. "As a feeder watcher, your mission is to count and record the birds that come to your feeder on count day."
This time the count day was Saturday, December 17, 2022.