Saskatoon Nature Society
Field trips


Pike Lake Christmas Bird Count
January 2, 2006.

by Frank Roy

The Pike Lake Count is always the last to take place in the Saskatoon area. Because we generally walk off our New Year's calories in early January, we didn't have the results tabulated in time to make last month’s newsletter.

As with the Boxing Day count in Saskatoon, we had mild weather for our count, -5C in the morning when we started and -5C when the last group finished after 5 p.m. The trouble was that we couldn't see much for the first two hours until the heavy fog dissipated around 11 a.m. Thirty-two counters, in addition to another 4 feeder watchers, tallied a total of 26 species and 1576 individuals (about half the number seen in recent years).

The species count: Common Goldeneye, 1; Ruffed Grouse, 6; Sharp-tailed Grouse, 5; Bald Eagle, 1; Northern Goshawk, 1; Merlin, 1; Rock Pigeon, 13; Great Horned Owl, 2; Downy Woodpecker, 27; Hairy Woodpecker, 29; Northern Flicker, 3; Northern Shrike, 1; Blue Jay, 52; Black-billed Magpie, 133; Common Raven, 140; Horned Lark, 26; Black-capped Chickadee, 303; Boreal Chickadee, 2; White-breasted Nuthatch, 29; Bohemian Waxwing, 227; American Tree Sparrow, 17; Lapland Longspur, 40; Snow Bunting, 189; Rusty Blackbird, 4; Evening Grosbeak, 1; House Sparrow, 323.

A new species for the Pike Lake Count was the Lapland Longspur (a flock of 40 were noted on the east side of the river). New highs were established for Northern raven (140), and White-breasted Nuthatch (29). As with many other counts across the province, most northern visitors were in short supply; we saw no redpolls, Pine Siskins or Pine Grosbeaks, and only one Evening Grosbeak We did count 227 Bohemian Waxwings, however, one Northern Shrike, a Northern Goshawk, 189 Snow Buntings and for only the second time in 23 years, two Boreal Chickadees, part of an incursion that has been noted throughout the southern half of the province. Apart from 6 Ruffed Grouse (more than usual), we noted only five Sharp-tailed Grouse (last year, 114) and no Gray Partridges at all. For the first time in six years we missed seeing a Pileated Woodpecker (now believed to be a permanent resident in the Pike Like area), nor could we find a starling, robin or Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Thanks to Nancy Young who arranged for us to have our lunch in the Anglican Church basement and to everyone who participated in the count. What a pleasure to do a count in milder weather; two years ago we started out in -34C weather and it warmed to a high of only -27C! Who says birders aren't tough.

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Last modified: 6 February, 2010