Saskatoon Christmas Bird Count
December 26, 2005.
by Michael Williams
Bird counters were treated to marvelously good weather on Boxing Day. A sunny blue sky and temperatures rising a few degrees above freezing, without wind, provided the best outdoor recreation in many years. A far cry from last year's misery!
The best that can be said for the species and numbers count is that it was average. Only 39 species were recorded. Several factors probably contributed to the low numbers. Fair weather is not always advantageous for seeing birds. If they are not cold and hungry they tend to spread out and remain quiet in the shrubbery, with minimal visits to feeders and other food supplies.
This year's mild fall and winter conditions have apparently not compelled many northern species to travel down from the northern forests in search of food. Crossbills, redpolls, grosbeaks and snow buntings were notable for their absence.
No bad weather hindered the fall migration this season, and few stragglers remained to be counted. We were fortunate to find a few: American Kestrel (1), Short-eared Owl (1), Cedar Waxwing (2), Dark-eyed Junco (1), Common Grackle (1) and American Goldfinch (2).
Lingering waterfowl were well represented: Canada Goose (2,071), Common Goldeneye (309) and Mallard (31) - but no other species were present.
Raptors spotted included Cooper's Hawk (1), Northern Goshawk (1), Merlin (4) and one unidentified accipiter.
Prairie and woodland birds were present in average numbers: Gray Partridge (43), Sharp-tailed Grouse (13), Ruffed Grouse (1), Great Horned Owl (5), American Crow (8), Common Raven (15), Red-breasted Nuthatch (85), White-breasted Nuthatch (7), Brown Creeper (3), Golden-crowned Kinglet (4) and European Starling (13).
Woodpeckers were notably scarce - Downy Woodpecker (17, down from 48 last year) and Hairy Woodpecker (18, down from 45 three years ago). However, Northern Flickers (16) were plentiful, and a Pileated Woodpecker was present for the second year in a row, this time at Beaver Creek.
Familiar urban species included American Robin (13), Blue Jay (73) and House Finch (466). Black-capped Chickadees (695) outnumbered Black-billed Magpies (634) for the second year in a row.
Winter visitors were few, but Northern Shrike (1), Boreal Chickadee (3), Townsend's Solitaire (1) and Pine Grosbeak (2) were seen; an exception to the rule was Bohemian Waxwing, plentiful at 3,914.
Rock Pigeons (2,391) were about as abundant as usual, but House Sparrows (3,840), although slightly more plentiful than last year, continue to be more scarce than in recent years.
Many thanks to the more than 100 people who participated in the event, both in the field and at home keeping an eye on the birds at their feeders. In all, 14,708 birds were present to brighten this fine winter day. Special thanks go to Hilda and Bruce Noton for their hospitality at the roundup following the count. Chili and buns and hot chocolate are a great treat after a day in the great outdoors! If you have never participated in this count you are missing out on one of our Society's most enjoyable events. I hope you can join us next December. Happy New Year, and I wish you all good birding in 2006.
Last modified: 6 February, 2010