Local Christmas counts find the winter birds

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Deborah Powell

MRC PONTIAC AND PONTIAC – The first regional tally of the 2021-2022 Christmas bird count season took place December 18 in Pembroke and area. Christian Renault, organizer for the Allumette Island sector of the count, reported that it wasn’t by any means an exceptional year, both for the number of species (29) or the total number of birds. However, open areas on the Ottawa River did give a chance to observe five species of waterfowl including 275 Canada geese and one Ring-necked duck. Seven birders covered the area by car and on foot and six feeder watchers also contributed.
It was the tenth year for the Quyon-Shawville count, December 21. A respectable number of species (36) were observed with Moss Mines as the richest area with a record 30 species including a Golden Eagle. Two new species for the winter count were observed: Northern Mockingbird in Shawville and an American Kestrel in Moss Mines. Records were set for the number of Mourning Doves spotted (223) as well as for Blue Jays (317) and Evening Grosbeak (61). Fifteen birders covered the area by car and on foot and 8 feederwatchers added their observations.
December 28 was the twentieth year for the Ile-du-Grand-Calumet and area count and 33 species were observed, just one below the record of 34. Nine birders made up the road teams and 3 feederwatchers helped out. Surprises included a Song Sparrow, a Purple Finch and a Canada goose camped beside corn silage on a farm. 121 Evening Grosbeak and 10 Northern Cardinal also made for a bright day. Wild Turkey was the most numerous species with 387 counted.
The 41st Dunrobin-Breckenridge count was also held December 28, with 13 feeder watchers and 4 road teams taking part on the Quebec side. Sightings included a male Red-bellied Woodpecker at a feeder near Breckenridge Creek and another in Queen’s Park, Aylmer. Three male Eastern Bluebirds were spotted on ch Crégheur by one of the road teams, who also found the only two Canada geese on a lake at Hollow Glen. Two Bald Eagles were seen flying down the river near the Luskville beaches, and a Barred Owl and a Northern shrike were seen in this area. There were more Wild Turkey, American Goldfinch and Snow Bunting than last year. In total, 33 species were observed.
In all areas there were significant numbers of Bald Eagle while hawks seemed scarce this year.
Christmas bird counts happen in over 2000 localities throughout the Western Hemisphere. The information collected by thousands of volunteer participants forms one of the world’s largest sets of wildlife survey data. The results are used daily by conservation biologists and naturalists to assess population trends and distribution of birds. Each count is conducted on a single day between December 14 and January 5, carried out within a 24-km diameter circle that stays the same from year to year.