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Saskatoon Christmas Bird Count (54th annual) - 26. December 2008

By Michael Williams, count compiler

Weather for the Saskatoon count was also very cold, with temperatures hovering around –22°C. Fortunately winds were light, and the afternoon sun was pleasantly warm in sheltered areas, giving the 50 field participants some relief. Another 52 people kept track of the birds in their backyards and at their feeders.

It was a good day for seeing birds: 12,519 were counted, comprising 39 different species. These figures are only slightly lower that the long term average for a Saskatoon count.

There are a few highlights to report. Perhaps the most noticeable were the new high counts for Rock Pigeon (4,313) and House Finches (686). Bohemian Waxwings (200) were notably absent from the city neighborhoods this year, and very few lingering fall migrants were present: Golden-crowned Kinglet ( 1), American Robin (2), White-throated Sparrow ( 2), and Dark-eyed Junco (2). Canada Geese, still fairly abundant in recent milder years, were down to the last 14.

Numbers of our familiar winter visitors were erratic: Snow Bunting (1,099), Pine Grosbeak (7), and Common Redpoll (87). Two Snowy Owls, a Northern Hawk Owl, and a Northern Saw-whet Owl within the city limits were an unexpected surprise.

For the record, numbers of other species are as follows: Mallard 9; Common Goldeneye 381; Common Merganser 3; Gray Partridge 76; Sharp-tailed Grouse 15; Cooper’s Hawk 1; Northern Goshawk 1; Accipiter, sp. 1; Merlin 2; Great Horned Owl 3; Downy Woodpecker 44; Hairy Woodpecker 25; Northern Flicker 9; Blue Jay 55; Black-billed Magpie 435; American Crow 7; Common Raven 93; Black-capped Chickadee 765; Red-breasted Nuthatch 127; White-breasted Nuthatch 12; European Starling 104; Cedar Waxwing 101; White-winged Crossbill 40; Hoary Redpoll 1; Pine Siskin 46; House Sparrow 3,746.

The warm hospitality of Donna Haugen at her home in Silverspring was greatly appreciated by the field participants at the late afternoon count round-up. Thank you Donna! I also wish to thank Hilda Noton and Marlene Kalanack who assisted me at the round-up table and those who helped Donna with the preparations. Perhaps it was just the weather, but it was a struggle getting our participation level over the 100 mark this year. This count is still one of the most successful in Canada, and I hope you will all continue to be a part of it and encourage others to join in the years to come. May the good birding continue in 2009!

Last updated: 6 April, 2009