05 January 2018

Cranbrook and Kimberley Christmas Bird Counts



The 20th annual Cranbrook and Kimberley Christmas Bird Counts were held on Wednesday December 27th and Saturday December 30th, 2017 respectively.  Twenty-two people took part as field observers on one or both counts, and 20 people contributed feeder counts.  Most field observers live in Cranbrook or Kimberley but some came from Fernie and people from Edmonton and Burnaby, visiting family in the area, also helped out.  Cranbrook and Kimberley people also participate in counts in other areas; this year they went to Fernie, Creston, and Eureka, Montana.

On Count Day, teams of counters cover as much of the 24-km diameter circle as possible to tally all birds they see; feeder counters tally the highest number of a species in their yard.  Count Week extends three days either side of Count Day.  Any species NOT seen on Count Day but seen during Count Week can be included in the official report to Bird Studies Canada but numbers of individuals of “count week” species are not added to the count tally.

Cranbrook Results
Count day:  27 December 2017
Count week: 24 – 30 December 2017
Audubon / Bird Studies Canada Count #118
Total species, count day:  53
Total species, count week:  57
Total number of individuals: 2,922

The weather for the Cranbrook count was cold, as usual, with temperatures ranging from -22 C to -15 C.  Moyie Lake and the Cranbrook sewage lagoons were partly unfrozen.  People going out into the field, driving, cross-country skiing, or walking numbered 14 intrepid birders and 13 people counted at their feeders.  The 24-kilometer diameter circle goes from St. Eugene Mission to Green Bay on Moyie Lake and from Old Wycliffe to Gold Creek.  Also included is the Trans-Canada Trail to Rampart Rest Area.

Fifty-three species were recorded on count day.  This breaks the record of 52 species from December 2012.

One entirely new species was added to the total of 96 species ever seen on a count day – American Coot (1).  They are regular and common in the breeding season but usually migrate south for the winter.  During count week (3 days before and after count day), two additional species were seen: Brown Creeper, which has been relatively abundant this fall, and a Brown Thrasher, another new species for the count circle.

The Brown Thrasher is a rare visitor to Cranbrook, having been seen twice previously, in the early months of  2013 and 2015.  The bird here this year has been visiting a feeder adjacent to Joseph Creek north of the Rec Plex since the 9th of December; but was not seen on count day.

Another rare bird in Cranbrook this winter was a female Northern Cardinal.  This is the first confirmed record for the species in British Columbia.  She too, was living along Joseph Creek from the 7th of November to the 8th of December.  Several birders from all over the province have driven or flown to Cranbrook to view her to add her to their British Columbia life list.  It would have been nice to see it on count day but she has not been spotted for a while.

The total number of individual birds counted was 2,922 which is about in the middle range (1,000 – 6,000).

Bohemian Waxwing (825) was the most numerous species, as usual.  Other numerous birds included Mallard (406), Rock Pigeon (246), Common Redpoll (268), House Finch (176), Common Raven (148), and American Crow (147).

Record high counts were recorded for Bald Eagle (17), Northern Flicker (37), and Blue Jay (27).  The 406 Mallards counted were the second highest ever and the 246 Rock Pigeons counted were the fifth highest.

Only 1-3 individuals were seen for 24 species such as American Goldfinch, American Robin, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Black-billed Magpie, Mourning Dove, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Golden Eagle, Great Blue Heron, and Common Merganser.

For only the third time in the count’s history, Hoary Redpoll (1), Common Merganser (1), and American Wigeon (2) were sighted.

Our favourite feeder birds such as Black-capped (125) and Mountain Chickadee (113), Downy and Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Stellar’s Jay, Song Sparrow, House Finch, and Pine Siskin were counted in their usual numbers over all, even if scare at some feeders.  Evening Grosbeaks (3), low in number over the past several years, seem to have been replaced by their red-hued cousins, the Pine Grosbeak (74).

Species whose numbers appear lower than usual were Common Raven (148, average 259), Mourning Dove (1), Clark’s Nutcrackers (5), Dark-eyed Junco (7), Red Crossbill (2), and House Sparrow (11).

Notable species seen, and always nice to get were Northern Shrike (3), American Dipper (7), and Townsend’s Solitaire (13) – all showing average numbers.   Two Chestnut-backed Chickadee were recorded – they sometimes frequent feeders here in the winter, having come down from higher elevations where they breed.  A few American Robins may not go as far southward as the rest – only one was recorded this year, as was one American Goldfinch.
   
Northern Pygmy-Owl, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Brown Creeper are normally seen on count day but were not to be found this year, although the Creeper was spotted during count week.

The Count-up potluck was graciously hosted by Bob and Gretchen again this year and much warm and good food was provided and consumed.

Thanks to field counters, drivers, recordists, skiiers, hikers, feeder counters and everyone that helped make these counts successful once again!  Mark your calendars for similar dates next year!

Cranbrook Christmas Bird Count #118 – Complete list of species – 27 Dec 2017

Species
Indiv_Nr
American Wigeon
2
Mallard
406
Green-winged Teal
2
Common Goldeneye
27
Barrow's Goldeneye
1
Hooded Merganser
2
Common Merganser
1
Ruffed Grouse
2
Great Blue Heron
1
Golden Eagle
1
Northern Goshawk
1
Bald Eagle
17
Rough-legged Hawk
1
hawk sp.
1
American Coot
1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
246
Eurasian Collared-Dove
2
Mourning Dove
1
Downy Woodpecker
19
Hairy Woodpecker
13
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)
37
Pileated Woodpecker
9
Merlin
4
Northern Shrike
3
Gray Jay
3
Steller's Jay
7
Blue Jay
27
Black-billed Magpie
1
Clark's Nutcracker
5
American Crow
147
Common Raven
148
Black-capped Chickadee
125
Mountain Chickadee
113
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
2
chickadee sp.
9
Red-breasted Nuthatch
50
Brown Creeper
0.1
American Dipper
7
Golden-crowned Kinglet
1
Townsend's Solitaire
13
American Robin
1
Brown Thrasher
0.1
European Starling
69
Bohemian Waxwing
825
Dark-eyed Junco
7
Song Sparrow
5
Red-winged Blackbird
5
Evening Grosbeak
3
Pine Grosbeak
74
House Finch
176
Cassin's Finch
2
Common Redpoll
268
Hoary Redpoll
1
Red Crossbill
2
Pine Siskin
14
American Goldfinch
1
House Sparrow
11


Kimberley Results

Count day:  30 December 2017
Count week: 27 December 2017 – 2 January 2018
Audubon / Bird Studies Canada Count #118 BCKB
Total species, count day:  44
Total species, count week:  4
Total number of individuals:  2,203

The weather for the Kimberley count was cold, as usual, but a little warmer than for the Cranbrook count and warmer than some of the previous years.  Temperatures ranged from -15 C to -11 C.  Significant amounts of snow overnight meant that some participants could not attend and side roads were still unplowed. Open water was visible only on the Saint Mary’s and Kootenay Rivers.

People going out into the field, driving and walking, numbered 12 intrepid birders and 7 people counted birds at their feeders.  The 24-kilometer diameter circle, although named “Kimberley”, goes from Alpine Crescent on the ski hill eastward include Bummer’s Flats, and from Wycliffe northward to Wasa.

Forty-four species were recorded on count day, which is an average number of species for the Kimberley Circle.  

Two new species were added to the all-time species list for the Kimberley circle.  One Cooper’s Hawk was spotted in Ta Ta Creek and one Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, often seen at a feeder on Wycliffe Cherry Creek Rd in winter, was finally gotten on count day.  This now puts Kimberley’s total number of species seen on count day at 80 species. 

No additional species were added during count week.  The total number of individual birds counted was 2,203 which is about in the middle range (1,200 – 6,500) for Kimberley.

Bohemian Waxwing (757) was the most numerous species, as usual, but this is one quarter of the almost 3,000 seen on the January 2000 count and a bit less than on the Cranbrook count.  Other numerous birds included Common Redpoll (369 – over a hundred more than Cranbrook), Black-capped Chickadee (125 – about the same as Cranbrook), House Finch (111), Mountain Chickadee (106), and Pine Grosbeak (102 – missed last year).

Record high counts were recorded for Snow Bunting thanks to a report of a flock of about 90 birds which has been using the fields off Porteous Road.  Record or tied-with record numbers were also counted for Canada Goose (19), Bald Eagle (14), Downy Woodpecker (38), and Pileated Woodpecker (16).  Also high were Northern Flicker (39 – 3rd time for this highest number), and Common Redpoll (369).

Only 1-3 individuals were seen for 11 species such as Common Goldeneye, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Shrike, Steller’s Jay, Brown Creeper, and Pine Siskin.  Other species making a rare or unusual appearance were Chestnut-backed Chickadee (4 – 4th time on count), Pygmy Nuthatch (4 – 4th time), and Rough-legged Hawk (1 – 6th time).

For the remainder of favourite feeder birds, some numbers were average and some were down.  Average or above average were Hairy Woodpecker (16), Mountain Chickadee (106), Red-breasted Nuthatch (43).  Below average were: Steller’s Jay (10), Blue Jay (2), Black-capped Chickadee (131 – even though they are one of our more numerous species), Dark-eyed Junco (7), Evening Grosbeaks (23 – still much higher than Cranbrook’s 3 birds), Red Crossbill (12), Pine Siskin (2) and House Sparrow (11)..

The number of the larger corvids, Common Raven (54) and American Crow (49), was a half to a third of their usual – perhaps because school was not in session when the Kimberley count was done so the birds were spread throughout the towns.  Clark’s Nutcracker (26) was also low.

One species seemingly increasing is the Eurasian Collared-Dove (9) which first appeared on Christmas Bird Counts in the area 6 years ago.  They were first found in Florida in 1982 and have since expanded northwest as far as Alaska, reaching this latitude in the 2010s.

Regarding Wild Turkey.  This species is seen more frequently on the Kimberley count than the Cranbrook one.  The 3 or 4 turkeys that made a corner of Marysville their winter home late last winter were not to be seen, but 39 were counted in other areas within the count circle.

Other notable species seen, and always nice to get were American Dipper (4) along Mark Creek and the St. Mary’s River, as usual, and Townsend’s Solitaire (10).
   
Species missed, which are usually seen on half the counts over the past 20 years were Red-tailed Hawk, American Robin, Dark-eyed Junco, and American Goldfinch.

Also missed was a bird representing the first documented sighting of the species in the East Kootenay.  Throught the fall and early winter, a single Anna’s Hummingbird was frequenting a heated feeder on Clearview Road.  This was the first documented Anna’s for the East Kootenay.  Unfortunately, the bird has not been seen since 16 December 2017.  Reports of it being chased by a Northern Shrike may explain its disappearance.  The Anna’s is known to be less likely to migrate and will brave cold temperature and snow, even when nesting.  It has been expanding its range northward from California since the 1960s.

The Count-up was hosted by Marysville Pub who are always very accommodating to our group and have great food and service.  Thank you!

Thanks to all field counters, drivers, recordists, hikers, feeder counters and everyone that helps make these counts successful!  Special thanks to new-to-the-circle CBCrs Shannon and Martin for stepping up and taking on a whole area on their first time out.  Hope you all had fun and can be a CBCer again next year!

Kimberley Christmas Bird Count #118 – Complete list of species – 30 Dec 2017

Species
Indiv_Nr
Canada Goose
19
Common Goldeneye
1
Common Merganser
6
Duck sp.
1
Wild Turkey
39
Cooper's Hawk
1
Bald Eagle
14
Rough-legged Hawk
1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
20
Eurasian Collared-Dove
9
Northern Pygmy-Owl
2
Downy Woodpecker
38
Hairy Woodpecker
17
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)
39
Pileated Woodpecker
16
Northern Shrike
2
Steller's Jay
3
Blue Jay
2
Black-billed Magpie
11
Clark's Nutcracker
26
American Crow
49
Common Raven
54
Black-capped Chickadee
131
Mountain Chickadee
106
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
4
chickadee sp.
10
Red-breasted Nuthatch
43
White-breasted Nuthatch
4
Pygmy nuthatch
4
Brown Creeper
2
American Dipper
4
Townsend's Solitaire
10
European Starling
17
Bohemian Waxwing
757
Snow Bunting
90
American Tree Sparrow
4
Song Sparrow
5
Evening Grosbeak
23
Pine Grosbeak
102
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch
1
House Finch
111
Cassin's Finch
10
Common Redpoll
369
Red Crossbill
12
Pine Siskin
2
House Sparrow
12