The 35th annual Fort St. James Christmas Bird Count was held on Dec. 22.
About 13 observers and 13 feeder watchers participated on a very snowy morning, eager to catch a glimpse of their favorite bird species or perhaps one that has never been seen before.
Joanne Vinnedge has been the Bird Count Compiler since it began in Fort St. James in 1981.
“It’s a full day of bird watching from dusk until dawn,” Vinnedge said.
“We always have a dedicated bunch of observers and feeder watchers who take part every year.”
The Christmas Bird Count is part of a North American citizen science-wide project in which observers tally the total number of birds seen on a chosen day within a two week period during the Christmas season.
Results are analysed nationally by Bird Studies Canada and used to determine multi-year trends in bird populations.
According to Vinnedge, observers tallied 36 different species and 1128 birds.
“Notably absent or only present in very low numbers were the seed-eating birds like pine grosbeaks, common redpolls and evening grosbeaks,” Vinnedge said.
“These species tend to follow cone crops across the country, irrupting where crops are more abundant, however, this is the first year that pine grosbeaks have been absent from this count. While only 33 trumpeter swans were counted, it is quite likely that these birds were spread out further downriver.”
Vinnedge also says that the collared-doves are growing in number, with 35 observed.
“These recent arrivals are invasive and spreading across North America. They have been in Fort St. James for less than 10 years and are now probably a permanent part of our landscape,” Vinnedge said.
A short-eared owl was a bird highlight along with all four species of chickadees observed in one location at Stones Bay.
A white-breasted nuthatch and white-throated sparrow were two other unusual species that were also sighted at local bird feeders.
Vinnedge is thrilled with all of the community support received year after year.
“Sincere thanks to all observers who volunteer their time every year. And special thanks to those “out-of- town keeners” who driver up from Prince George and Vanderhoof to help. It’s always appreciated.”
Fort St. James Christmas Bird Count Numbers 2016
Bird Number seen
Trumpeter swan 33
Common goldeneye 41
Ruffed grouse 33
Bald eagle 3
Short-eared owl 1
Rock dove 13
Eurasian collared-dove 35
Downy woodpecker 16
Hairy woodpecker 24
Northern flicker 3
Pileated woodpecker 2
Northern shrike 5
Grey jay 4
Brown creeper 2
Black-billed magpie 18
American crow 36
Common raven 141
Black-capped chickadee 283
Mountain chickadee 3
Chestnut-backed chickadee 1
Boreal chickadee 1
Red-breasted nuthatch 14
White-breasted nuthatch cw*
American dipper 3
Eurasian starling 11
Bohemian waxwing 61
White-throated sparrow 1
Dark-eyed junco 3
Rusty blackbird 1
White-winged crossbill 1
Common redpoll 3
Evening grosbeak 6
House sparrow 221
36 species 1130 total birds
*cw – bird seen not on count day but within count week period