This Spotted Towhee was one of three seen at a bird feeder at the bottom of Comer Street during the Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, Dec. 15. (Phil Ranson photo submitted)

This Spotted Towhee was one of three seen at a bird feeder at the bottom of Comer Street during the Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, Dec. 15. (Phil Ranson photo submitted)

Annual Christmas Bird Count sees record numbers of field raptors tallied locally

There were no new species on the count this year and the final tally stands at 4,158 birds

The 2019 Christmas bird count was conducted by the Williams Lake Field Naturalists under near-ideal conditions on Sunday, Dec. 15.

Light winds and a mix of sun and cloud with airport temperatures showing steady at -7°C, kept things relatively comfortable for the 35 counters in the field.

There were no new species on the count this year and the final tally stands at 4,158 birds, about 300 less than the 10-year average, while the species number stood at 51, again slightly below average.

Any expectations for a bumper count had been tempered by the lack of the usual northern finches which can invade the area in winter and the seeming scarcity of Bohemian Waxwings which have boosted the numbers considerably in past years. Although there were a surprising number of Waxwings found (488), the forest finches, specifically the two species of Crossbill and Redpolls were no-shows, and others like the Pine Grosbeak and Pine Siskins were only seen in low numbers.

Read more: Drivers mindful of lone pheasant in downtown Horsefly

The big story of the count was the record numbers of field raptors headlined by a phenomenal 14 Northern Harriers. The best we’ve managed in the previous 51 counts was two. Red-tailed Hawk numbers were three better than the previous high of nine, and the arctic breeding Rough-legged Hawks also more than doubled their previous best with nine.

It can only be speculated that a combination of low snow cover, relatively mild weather and a healthy rodent population accounts for this increase.

Paradoxically, we didn’t see any owls which has happened only once before in the past 20 years and made all the more strange by the 10 to 12 Short-eared Owls reported from Riske Creek only a few days before.

Other count highs and part of a continuing trend were the five Spotted Towhees and 120 American Goldfinches. Towhees have only become regular on the count in the past decade, while Goldfinches have only occurred annually since 1999.

Another record high count was the 713 Rock Pigeons up from the previous high of 483. Woodpecker numbers have rebounded some from last year’s lows but Downy Woodpeckers are still well below normal. The 18 Steller’s Jays seemed like a surprising number but it was surpassed in the records by the 27 counted in 1995.

The WLFN would like to thank all the participants, especially those that travelled from out of town, and all the feeder watchers who phoned in their reports.

The total number of birds countered for each species are as follows:

1. American Wigeon: 2

2. Mallard: 148

3. Green-winged Teal: 6

4. Lesser Scaup: 1

5. Bufflehead: 2

6. Common Goldeneye: 21

7. Common Merganser: 1

8. Ruffed Grouse: 2

9. Pied-billed Grebe: 3

10. Rock Pigeon: 713

11. Eurasian Collared Dove: 19

12. Mourning Dove: 3

13. American Coot: 2

14. Bald Eagle: 23

15. Northern Harrier: 14

16. Sharp-shinned Hawk: 1

17. Northern Goshawk: 2

18. Red-tailed Hawk: 12

19. Rough-legged Hawk: 9

20. Golden Eagle: 3

21. Downy Woodpecker: 15

22. Hairy Woodpecker: 23

23: Three-toed Woodpecker: 1

24. Northern Flicker: 60

25. Pileated Woodpecker: 12

26. Northern Shrike: 2

27. Canada Jay: 20

28. Steller’s Jay: 18

29. Black-billed Magpie: 30

30. American Crow: 421

31. Common Raven: 323

32. Black-capped Chickadee: 260

33. Mountain Chickadee: 239

34. Red-breasted Nuthatch: 129

35. Brown Creeper: 8

36. American Dipper: 9

37. Golden-crowned Kinglet: 2

38. Townsend’s Solitaire: 23

39. American Robin: 3

40. European Starling: 96

41. Bohemian Waxwing: 488

42. House Sparrow: 392

43. Pine Grosbeak: 11

44. House Finch: 283

45. Pine Siskin: 30

46. American Goldfinch: 120

47. Spotted Towhee: 5

48. Song Sparrow: 29

49. Dark-eyed Junco: 101

50. White-throated Sparrow: 1

51. Red-winged Blackbird: 17

Total birds counted: 4,158

Total species counted: 51



patrick.davies@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Phil Ranson is a member of the Williams Lake Field Naturalists

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

letter
LETTERS: I saw the best of humanity near Williams Lake

Special thank you goes to Tara, who took care of my dog without even thinking twice

Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association president Mike Rispin addresses city council at its regular meeting back in October of 2020 asking the city to rescind its no-spectator policy. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
WLMHA remains vigilant, steady, as practices carry on amid pandemic

WLMHA is looking at organizing several skills competitions for players to take part in

Williams Lake First Nation provides a community COVID-19 update Friday, Jan. 15. (Williams Lake First Nation Facebook image)
Williams Lake First Nation Chief highlights importance of mental health amid COVID-19 outbreak

A time to be forgiving, sincere and loving, says Willie Sellars

Interior Health confirmed Friday, Jan. 15, there are now six staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 at Cariboo Memorial Hospital. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
UPDATE: Six Cariboo Memorial Hospital staff members test positive for COVID-19

Interior Health said Friday, Jan. 15 testing is ongoing

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Most Read