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Mild weather surprises in Christmas bird count

by | Jan 3, 2023

Warm weather and open water was reflected in the 44th North Bay Christmas Bird Count results. The annual scan of the same 24-kilometre wide circle of land noted a few unusual sightings for 2022, including American Robins, Canada Geese on Trout Lake and a small flock of Herring gulls.

A summary report by Renee Levesque, coordinator of Nipissing Naturalist Club Bird Wing, also mentioned noticeable misses such as no owls, Canada Jays, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Purple Finch, Red Crossbills, White-winged Crossbills or Snow Buntings.

Stephen O’Donnell Photo, Red-Tailed Hawk


“Because Trout Lake still had open water on the day of the bird count, in addition to Mallards and a couple of American Black Ducks, other ducks were more plentiful than usual with 24 Hooded Mergansers, 18 Common Goldeneye, and 2 Common Mergansers.”

The local bird count statistics become part of a North American data set, one of the world’s largest and important wildlife surveys that began in 1900, Levesque wrote, adding, “Conservation biologists and naturalists use the data collected to assess population trends and distribution of birds.”

Dorothy Williams Photo, Northern Cardinal

There were 23 field surveyors and 23 feeder watchers, on Dec. 17, who found 37 bird species and 3,449 individual birds recorded within the designated locations.  To view the circle and get contact information, check out Christmas Bird Count on Nipissing Naturalists Club’s website:

Other surprising finds with the two American Robins were singular sightings of a Brown Thrasher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a Gray Catbird, along with 4 Common Grackles, and 3 Northern Cardinals. Discussions afterward included comments that there were even more cardinals seen throughout Nipissing region up until then.   “It would certainly seem their numbers are increasing here,” Levesque wrote.

Renee Levesque Photo, Pine Grosbeak

Bald Eagle numbers were 14, down somewhat from last year, but Red-tailed Hawk numbers at 3 were a record high.

Other nice finds were 80 Bohemian Waxwings, 55 Pine Grosbeaks, 37 Mourning Doves, 36 Common Redpolls, 19 Pine Siskins, 2 Brown Creepers, 5 American Tree Sparrows and 2 Dark-eyed Juncos, the only sparrows seen.

There were more White-breasted Nuthatches seen this count than Red-breasted Nuthatches, and more Hairy Woodpeckers than Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers.

Buddy Myles Photo, Red-bellied Woodpecker

By far, and not surprisingly, the most species seen were Black-capped Chickadees, 660 individuals, followed by 366 Mallards, 413 European Starlings, 257 Evening Grosbeaks,191 Common Ravens, 124 American Goldfinch, and 139 American Crows.

Blue Jay numbers were down.  Only 53 were found this count, compared with 195 in 2021.  However, there have been other low counts.  In 2016, only 39 were seen, but as many as 665 have been seen other years.

*Numbers supplied by Lori Anderson, Christmas Bird Count Compiler


Dave Dale
Dave Dale

Writer, photographer and proud father. My mom’s family is from the Soo with its Algoma Highlands, dad hailed from Cobden in the Ottawa Valley and I spent my teen years in Capreol. Summers were at the beach on the Vermillion River and winters at ‘The Rink.’ Born in East York but Toronto never was my thing. Ever since a kid looking out the window on long trips, I imagined living on the highway in a little house with a big yard and trees growing all around me.

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