Geese numbers down, pheasants up in annual bird count

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It was a cold day for participants in the annual New Year’s Bird Count in Pictou County.
The day started at -23ºC said Ken McKenna and in some ways this year’s weather could be seen to have impacted what birds were observed.

Ken McKenna said that there were 14,223 birds spotted of 69 different species in this year’s bird count. 

The count is held every year with participants counting the number of birds and species in a designated area.

For the first time in many years the harbour waters were mostly frozen concentrating some of the waterfowl, but maybe moving some others such as Canada Geese and Red-breasted Mergansers somewhere out of the range of field observers, McKenna said.

Canada Geese numbers for instance were at the lowest they’ve been in the 14 years McKenna has been submitting results from the count with just 233. Red-breasted Merganser numbers were just 10 per cent of the last couple of years when the waters were more open.

Overall, 14,223 birds were spotted with 69 different species identified. There were two new species for this count as well, a Ruddy Duck and a Purple Sandpiper.

“A winter plumage male Ruddy Duck seen the day before the count from Hawbolt's machine shop at Green's Pt. at the outflow from the NSPC plant was tallied through the steam over the water on count day and has been seen in the same location since the count- at least till Jan 8 when I last checked,” McKenna stated in an email to participants. “I don't think this species was recorded for the count before, but this species has been recorded in that location in at least one other winter.”

He said the Purple Sandpiper are more common on the eastern shore where there’s lots of ice on the shore.

“They tend to be feeding on rocky shoreline where there’s seaweed and leaves exposed,” he said. ”These birds nest way up north and they come down this far in the winter time.

Another significant change was with the Ring-necked Pheasants. Just 10 years ago, McKenna said they hadn’t been able to find any on count day, but this year they seem to be everywhere with 115 spotted for the count.

 “It is hard to drive a couple of kilometres in most locations in the county now and not encounter this colourful introduced species,” he said.

He noted that fruit eaters such as Robins and Waxwings were in low numbers despite the presence of untouched fruit in many locations.

For the second year in a row, three Chipping Sparrows were noted and photographed.

Although there’s been some sightings in the area this winter, McKenna said they didn’t find any Snowy Owls on the day of the count.

 

Here’s a list of the birds found on the count:

 

 

Canada Goose – 233

Gadwall – 6

Eurasian Wigeon – 1

American Wigeon – 15

American Black Duck – 1246

Mallard – 165

Mallard X Black hybrid – 2

Northern Pintail – 10

American Green-winged Teal – 2

Greater Scaup – 2,320

Lesser Scaup – 5

White-winged Scoter – 2

Long-tailed Duck – 63

Bufflehead – 25

Common Goldeneye – 1,284

Barrow's Goldeneye – 15

Hooded Merganser – 89

Common Merganser – 1,615

Red-breasted Merganser – 429

Ruddy Duck – 1

duck species – 4

Ring-necked Pheasant – 115

Ruffed Grouse – 14

Horned Grebe – 1

Great Cormorant – 1

Bald Eagle – 153

Northern Harrier – 2

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3

Northern Goshawk – 1

Red-tailed Hawk – 16

Purple Sandpiper – 1

Bonaparte's Gull – 12

Ring-billed Gull – 25

Herring Gull – 1,456

Iceland Gull – 65

Glaucous Gull – 2

Great Black-backed Gull – 55

gull species – 2

tern species – 1

Rock Pigeon – 233

Mourning Dove – 189

Great Horned Owl – 1

Belted Kingfisher – 3

Downy Woodpecker – 38

Hairy Woodpecker – 26

Northern Flicker – 15

Pileated Woodpecker – 1

woodpecker species – 1

Blue Jay – 179

American Crow– 1,174

Common Raven – 331

Black-capped Chickadee – 470

Red-breasted Nuthatch – 8

White-breasted Nuthatch – 7

Brown Creeper – 3

Golden-crowned Kinglet – 64

American Robin – 23

European Starling – 1,257

Bohemian Waxwing – 3

Yellow-rumped Warbler – 3

Pine Warbler – 1

American Tree Sparrow – 15

Chipping Sparrow – 3

Song Sparrow – 36

White-throated Sparrow – 5

sparrow species – 2

Dark-eyed Junco – 201

Lapland Longspur – 1

Snow Bunting – 54

Northern Cardinal – 3

Common Grackle – 1

Purple Finch – 17

American Goldfinch – 392

Evening Grosbeak – 6

Total count – 14,223

Organizations: Canada Geese, X Black

Geographic location: Canada, Black Duck, Bald Eagle Northern Harrier Northern Goshawk Iceland Great Black Blue Jay

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