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bald eagleSeven Bald Eagle sightings were recorded in this year’s Christmas Bird Count.

Hub Staff

A blast of winter likely had an impact on the totals during the annual Saugeen Shores Christmas Bird Count January 3, but it didn’t stop 25 citizen volunteers from braving the conditions and another 10 from watching bird feeders. In total 49 species of birds were counted which was noted by Norah Toth, coordinator of the count, as below average; 53 is the average, however the number of individual birds counted was 3,504, a higher number than the 2016 count which saw a total of 2,605 birds recorded.

Information collected from the Christmas Bird Count is submitted to the Audubon register through Bird Safe Canada. Toth said that of the 49 species seen during the count her most memorable was the Snowy Owl, 15 were seen in total. “They’re just a wonderful bird to see...we also saw lots of snow,” joked Toth during a telephone interview January 4.

Other notable sightings were the Brown-headed Cowbird which counted high at six, Common Redpoll at 40, American Goldfinch which was the second highest species seen at 733, the House Sparrow was noted low at a count of three and seven Bald Eagle sightings were recorded.

Toth said that in 2003 there were three Bald Eagles seen and in the 2005 count four were recorded. “Then it went all the way up to 35 about four years ago,” said Toth who explained that their numbers plummeted decades ago because of the use of Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT).

“And since that has been banned on the Great Lakes and Ontario and probably much of Canada their numbers have started to re-build. When I was a kid to see one would have been just amazing... now they're much more frequently seen,” said the birder, adding that an increase in sightings is a good indication that the habitat in the Great Lakes has greatly improved.

The coordinator remarked that the most interesting bird she's seen on the count in recent years was the Tufted Titmouse in 2016, a bird the size of a chickadee and normally found south in areas like Sarnia.

Six areas were covered by the volunteers during this year’s bird count with the largest amount of birds being seen in Zone 1 by Margaret Anderton, Fred Jazvac, Marilyn Ohler, Arlene Richards and Cindy Cartwright, all of Saugeen Shores, who caught site of 1,113 in total.

The Rubber Chicken award which is handed out to the group with the least amount of bird sightings went to Deane Atherton and Dawn Hollyer of Owen Sound and their teammate Ed Nichols of Port Elgin in Zone 6 east of Burgoyne. In total the Zone 6 team saw 193 birds. The Rubber Chicken award is notably handed out by Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood at birding festivals, and is given to the Saugeen Shores birders as a good gesture for their efforts.

2017 Saugeen Shores Christmas Bird Count sightings:

Canada Goose (1), Mute Swan (2), Mallard (24), Long-tailed Duck (7), Bufflehead (21), Common Goldeneye (79), Common Merganser (8), Red-breasted Merganser (16), Ruffed Grebe (2), Wild Turkey (61), Golden Eagle (1), Sharp-shinned Hawk (2), Bald Eagle (7), Red-tailed Hawk (2), Rough-legged Hawk (6), Buteo (1), Ring-billed Gull (5), Herring Gull (612), Rock Pigeon (179), Mourning Dove (101), Eastern Screech-Owl (1), Great Horned Owl (1), Snowy Owl (15), Red-bellied Woodpecker (7), Downy Woodpecker (34), Hairy Woodpecker (20), Pileated Woodpecker (1), American Kestrel (1), Northern Shrike (1), Blue Jay (1), American Crow (109), Common Raven (206), Horned Lark (5), Black-capped Chickadee (252), Red-breasted Nuthatch (29), White-breasted Nuthatch (16), Golden-crowned Kinglet (5), American Robin (2), European Starling (360), Snow Bunting (132), American Tree Sparrow (40), Dark-eyed Junco (245), Song Sparrow (1), Northern Cardinal (43), Brown-headed Cowbird (6), House Finch (36), Purple Finch (1) Common Redpoll (40), Pine Siskin (6), American Goldfinch (733).


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