Sunday, February 14, 2016

2015 Christmas Bird Count Report

History of the Christmas Bird Count
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Prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas "Side Hunt." They would choose sides and go afield with their guns—whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.
Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the then-nascent Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition—a "Christmas Bird Census" that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them. So began the Christmas Bird Count.
Count Day
2nd January 2016
It was the perfect winter day: sunny, crisp and calm. Forty three Bowen Islanders set out at the crack of dawn or settled in front of their feeders for a day’s birding with the intention of counting each bird seen throughout the day. This activity forms part of the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC), now in its 116th year, and conducted all over North America by citizen scientists like our own Bowen Islanders. The data collected over the past century allow Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America.
Collectively, we spent 93 hours in the field and tramped an impressive 98 km, recording a total of 3595 individual birds from 61 different species. A fantastic total that just goes to show what a rich and ecologically significant place this island and surrounding waters is that we call home. The most abundant bird was the Surf Scoter. The Surf Scoter is a sea duck that breeds on the lakes and ponds of the Arctic during the summer, but spends most of its time on the sea. The Pacific Northwest is a particularly important area for the Scoter, where it feeds on the clams and mussels of our coastline before following the herring spawn back north in the spring.
Nine-year-old Natalia Denis-Lay counting Surf Scoter with Ben Keen
116th Audubon Christmas Bird Count
Bowen Island
Facts: 43 Birders
93 hours
98 km walked
3595 Individuals
61 Species
I listened, motionless and still; And, as I mounted up the hill, The music in my heart I bore, Long after it was heard no more.
William Wordsworth
Canada Goose 1
Mute Swan 1
American Wigeon 2
Mallard 33
Ring-necked Duck 6
Harlequin Duck 2
Surf Scoter 939
Bufflehead 87
Common Goldeneye 12
Barrow’s Goldeneye 390
Hooded Merganser 12
Common Merganser 32
Red-breasted Merganser 3
Duck spp. 9
Common Loon 4
Loon spp. 4
Horned Grebe 10
Red-necked Grebe 5
Eared Grebe 1
Western Grebe 1
Brandt’s Cormorant 7
Double-crested Corm’t 23
Pelagic Cormorant 14
Cormorant spp. 1
Great Blue Heron 6
Bald Eagle 52
Immature Bald Eagle 53
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Falcon spp. 1
Surfbird 4
Mew Gull 16
Thayer's Gull 6
Glaucous-winged Gull 163
Gull spp. 103
Hybrid Gull 2
Common Murre 4
Marbled Murrelet 25
Anna's Hummingbird 32
Belted Kingfisher 3
Red-breasted Sapsucker 15
Hairy Woodpecker 6
Northern Flicker 43
Pileated Woodpecker 23
Woodpecker spp. 12
Steller’s Jay 58
Northwestern Crow 131
Common Raven 75
Black-capped Chickadee 187
Chestnut-backedd Chic’e 149
Chickadee spp 12
Red-breasted Nuthatch 24
Brown Creeper 7
Pacific Wren 84
American Dipper 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 95
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4
Kinglet spp. 7
Hermit Thrush 4
American Robin 30
Varied Thrush 90
European Starling 22
Spotted Towhee 106
Fox Sparrow 13
Song Sparrow 38
Golden–crowned Sparrow 2
Sparrow spp. 15
Dark-eyed Junco 139
House Finch 14
Red Crossbill 54
Pine Siskin 64
House Sparrow 1
Total Species 61
Total Individuals 3595
Richard Wing
Many great birds were recorded, no rarities but an excellent diversity of species nonetheless. Very good sea bird numbers were seen around the southwest side of the island, including four Grebe species (Horned, Western, Red-necked and Eared) and many Marbled Murrelets.
A healthy flock of Red Crossbills were recorded at Cape Roger Curtis and four Surfbirds were observed in the Tunstall Bay/Sealy Park area.
There were a fantastic number of Bald Eagles recorded with 52 adults and 53 immatures in all. It is highly likely many of these were duplicate sightings; however I witnessed a constant stream coming in from the North West throughout the day.
One surprise for me was the number of Pileated Woodpeckers, 23 in total – who knew there were so many on Bowen!
The densest area for birds was the southwest, due predominantly to the good numbers of sea birds. The species count was more evenly spread across the island with all areas having good numbers, the exception being Grafton Lake which yielded only 6 species, although one was a beautiful “Sooty” Fox Sparrow.
I’d like to thank everyone who participated in what was a wonderful day!

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