Frances McCoubrey (left)

49th annual bird count numbers below average

The 49th annual Christmas Bird count was undertaken by the Williams Lake Field Naturalists on Dec 18.

The 49th annual Christmas Bird count was undertaken  by the Williams Lake Field Naturalists on Dec 18.

Conditions had moderated after a cold spell that saw the lake and most of the river freeze over.

The 33 observers in the field had to contend with a fresh overnight snowfall and moderate winds but nothing unexpected for the time of year.

The total number of birds was on the low side coming in at 3,867 which is below the 10 year average.

The species total, however, tied with the third best of 58.

There were no new species but several difficult to find birds were uncovered including a Northern Hawk Owl in Pine Valley; a Rusty Blackbird at Scout Island and nine Snow Buntings in Chimney Valley.

A total of 12 White-throated Sparrows were found at bird feeders.

This is the highest number recorded for this species following a previous high of five  set last year.

This increase in numbers probably reflects the recent range expansion of this bird as a breeding species into the Central Cariboo.

Many of the northern breeding  finches which often winter here in good numbers were seen in very low numbers including Common Redpolls and Pine Grosbeaks.

These ‘irruptive’ species can vary from absent one year to abundant the next.

The Evening Grosbeak, a  familiar bird at feeders was not seen again this year and is now considered a species of concern.

A total of 638 were recorded on the 1989 count but numbers have been dwindling ever since.

Reasons for the decline are unknown.

Thanks to all who reported birds from their feeders and help considerably with the count.

Bird Counts and Species

A total of 58 bird species were recorded during the 49th annual Williams Lake Bird Count Dec. 18 broken down as follows by the numbers.

Mallard 62

Green-winged Teal 2

Common Goldeneye 6

Bald Eagle 21

Sharp-shinned Hawk 1

Accipiter species 1

Northern Harrier 1

Red-tailed Hawk 9

Rough-legged Hawk 4

Golden Eagle 4

American Coot 5

American Kestrel (count week)

Merlin 2

Wilson’s Snipe 1

Rock Pigeon 459

Eurasian Collared Dove 9

Mourning Dove 3

Northern Pygmy Owl 3

Northern Hawk Owl 1

Short-eared Owl 2

Belted Kingfisher 1

Downy Woodpecker. 27

Hairy Woodpecker 25

Northern Flicker 40

Am 3-toed Woodpecker 1

Black-backed Woodpecker 1

Pileated Woodpecker 13

Northern Shrike 3

Gray Jay 6

Steller’s Jay 2

Black-billed Magpie 27

American Crow  478

Common Raven. 276

Black-capped Chickadee 255

Mountain Chickadee 142

Red-breasted Nuthatch 112

White-breasted Nuthatch 1

Brown Creeper 2

American Dipper 27

Golden-crowned Kinglet 1

Townsend’s Solitaire 22

American Robin (during count week)

European Starling 206

Bohemian Waxwing 479

Spotted Towhee 3

Song Sparrow 37

White-throated Sparrow 12

White-crowned Sparrow 1

Dark-eyed Junco 143

Red-winged Blackbird 30

Brewer’s Blackbird 1

Rusty Blackbird 1

Snow Bunting 9

Pine Grosbeak 2

House Finch 179

Red Crossbill 290

White-winged Crossbill 13

Common Redpoll 29

Pine Siskin 43

American Goldfinch 62

House Sparrow 269

Total: 3867

Species: 58

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