Culture & Events — 07 February 2018
Frigid temperatures make for a quiet Xmas Bird Count in Eagle River

Sharp-tailed Grouse were seen in four locations during Eagle River’s Christmas Bird Count. Photo submitted

Submitted by Carolle Eady

On Dec. 16, a beautiful sunrise ushered in the Eagle River Christmas Bird Count for 2017.  With a wind from the northeast, -25 C was bone-chilling and, despite the temperature warming to -10 C, the strong eastern wind in the afternoon seemed to reduce the number of birds seen flying.  Many feederwatchers reported having higher numbers and a greater selection of birds before and after the count day when the wind was lower.

While  Eagle River attracted a Ring-necked duck in 2015 and a Common Merganser last year, no waterfowl were seen this year.  Owls and hawks were also absent.  While Northern Shrike had been seen in several locations during December, only one showed up on Count Day at Jan Irvine’s feeder.  Ann Skene saw the only White-breasted Nuthatch, and Rod and Angela Campbell had a lone Snow Bunting.  Margaret Smith and Carolle Eady found a solitary Slate-coloured Junco at Mary Peterson’s feeder just after sunrise.  While we totalled seven Purple Finches last year, narry a one showed up on the 16th. Boreal Chickadees did not put in an appearance either.  The highlight of the count was a Meadowlark which took shelter at a farm within the count circle.  While it looks like a Western Meadowlark, the surefire way to identify it is to hear it sing.  We may have to wait until Spring.  Given the extreme temperatures through December, the bird concentrated on finding food and keeping warm rather than expending its energy singing.  A Common Grackle was keeping it company.  

The following field observers surveyed many different habitats searching for additional species:  Maggie Smith, Len Suomu, John Terpstra, Susan Wall, and Carolle Eady. Very few birds were seen in the field; the strong wind probably influenced them to conserve energy.  As in previous years, feederwatchers were essential to tally this many species.  

Thanks again to Debbie Boyd, Rod Campbell, Cory Camphorst, Wayne and Joan Dalberg, Gord and Bobbie Dingman, Tim Eady, John Errington, Gord Euler, Dan and Sheila Felske, Shirley Fread, Erla Haukeness, Jan Irvine, Sharon Klassen, Wanda Jackson, Fritz Kamm, Carol Kondra, Sharon Langner, Melissa and Jamie Larson, Susan Mann, Roxanne Mol, Mary Peterson, Laurel Pilkie, Connie Ruete, Ann Skene, Len Suomu, Shawn Taylor, Gloria Vezina, Milton and Linda Webb, Ursala Wall, Arnie and Lynne Watts, and Donna Wise.  If any feederwatcher was missed, please know that I appreciate the time and effort that is dedicated to making the Christmas Bird Count successful.

Eagle River Christmas Bird Count, 2018
1. Bald Eagle (13)

2. Raven (162)

3. Crow (16)

4. Ruffed Grouse (17)

5. Spruce Grouse (cw)

6. Sharp-tailed Grouse (12)

7. Downy Woodpecker (28)

8. Hairy Woodpecker (35)

9. Pileated Woodpecker (6)

10. Grey Jay (Canada Jay) (64)

11. Blue Jay (72)

12. Black-billed Magpie (65)

13. Black-capped Chickadee (462)

14. Red-breasted Nuthatch (36)

15. White-breasted Nuthatch (1)

16. Pine Grosbeak (202)

17. Evening Grosbeak (113)

18. Common Redpoll (79)

19. Hoary Redpoll (10)

20. Pine Siskin (2)

21. Slate-coloured Junco (1)

22. Snow Bunting (1)

23. Rock Dove (50)

24. House Sparrow (50)

25. Starling (23)

26. Northern Shrike (1)

27. Meadowlark (sp) (1)

28. Common Grackle (1)

Total Birds 1539   

Total Species on Count Day – 27     

Count Week – 1


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About Author

Chris Marchand is a native of Dryden, Ontario. He served his first newspaper internship at The Dryden Observer in 1998 while attending journalism studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C. He's worked desks as both reporter and editor at the Fernie Free Press as well as filled the role of sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Marchand was named editor of the Dryden Observer in Aug. 2009.

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