Over 60 bird and winter enthusiasts came together in Creston and Kuskonook to participate in the 120th Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 27. Bird Studies Canada and the National Audubon Society are responsible for co-ordinating the efforts of these participants for this long-running wildlife survey held throughout the Western Hemisphere. This is a fun, annual winter tradition for many.
Data collected during the Creston count included details on the number of birds of each species seen or heard within a circle 24 km in diameter. This year, a second circle count was established to include the Duck and Kootenay lakes. Surveying these circles year after year contributes valuable information on how winter birds are faring, both in our locale and across the country, to help scientists better understand what needs to be done to protect our birds.
Appreciation goes out to Sharon Laughlin and the Creston Valley Field Naturalists Association for organizing, compiling and submitting the data for over 20 years. This year, the Creston Valley Bird Festival committee sponsored this event. The Golden Flour Bakery donated muffins to all the volunteers, and Connie McFadden made coffee for everyone.
This Dec. 27 was calm, cloudy and mild, with a bit of snowfall in the morning hours. With low snow volumes and high vole populations, it was a good year for spotting owls. Five species were seen in the valley with the short-eared owls being the most exciting, as they hunted in groups of up to 15 birds on the fields south of Duck Lake.
The two count circles produced 82 species of birds (higher than most years as the lake species were included) but the overall individual bird numbers were low at 7,666 birds — half of this number are the very large flocks of Canada Geese.
Without your efforts of fielders and feeder-watchers, the success of this day would not be possible. A post-count luncheon will be held at Casey’s Community House at noon Jan. 28 for all of the citizen scientists.
The Creston Valley Bird Festival is coming May 8-10. Registration starts in April at www.crestonvalleybirds.ca, and a schedule will be posted soon. Keynote speaker John Acorn is coming from the Edmonton area to show us his enthusiasm of birding.
This year’s count totalled 1,687 at Kuskonook and 5,973 in Creston, and included: Canada goose: 174 Kuskonook (K), 2,758 Creston (C); trumpeter swan: 25 K, 332 C; tundra swan: 42 K; unknown swan: 14 K; American wigeon, 15 K; mallard: 11 K, 74 C; lesser scaup: 18 K; bufflehead: 76 K, 66 C; common goldeneye: 70 K, 11 C; gadwall: 17 K; hooded merganser: 55 K, 7 C; common merganser: 32 K, 4 C; green-winged teal: 3 K; American coot: 800 K; California quail: 5 C; ring-necked pheasant: 22 C; ruffed grouse: 1 K, 1 C; wild turkey: 207 C; common loon: 3 K, 1 C; California gull: 2 K; great blue heron: 19 K, 28 C; golden eagle (adult): 1 K; golden eagle (immature): 1 C; bald eagle (adult): 12 K, 21 C; bald eagle (immature): 1 K, 4 C; northern harrier: 6 K, 16 C; sharp-shinned hawk: 1 C; northern goshawk: 1 K, 2 C; red-tailed hawk: 8 K, 28 C; rough-legged hawk: 2 K, 24 C; rock pigeon: 58 C; Eurasian collared dove: 257 C; mourning dove: 10 C; great horned owl: 3 K, 3 C; northern pygmy owl: 1 K, 4 C; barred owl: 1 C; short-eared owl: 9 K; long-eared owl: 1 K, 1 C; belted kingfisher: 4 C; downy woodpecker: 3 K, 26 C; hairy woodpecker: 10 C; American three-toed woodpecker: 2 C; northern flicker: 13 K, 165 C; pileated woodpecker: 5 K, 13 C; American kestrel: 4 C; merlin: 4 C; northern shrike: 2 K, 4 C; gray jay: 2 C; Steller’s jay: 2 K, 35 C; blue jay: 17 C; black-billed magpie: 11 K, 37 C; American crow: 98 C; common raven: 38 K, 66 C; black-capped chickadee: 31 K, 387 C; chestnut-backed chickadee: 28 C; red-breasted nuthatch: 4 K, 55 C; brown creeper: 3 K, 4 C; Pacific/winter wren: 2 K, 5 C; marsh wren: 2 K; American dipper: 1 K, 2 C; golden-crowned kinglet (count week): 6 K, 1 C; Townsend’s solitaire: 2 C; American robin: 1 K, 6 C; European starling: 3 K, 219 C; red-winged blackbird: 109 K; bohemian waxwing: 3 K, 32 C; cedar waxwing: 23 C; American tree sparrow: 3 K, 1 C; dark-eyed junco (slate): 33 C; dark-eyed junco (Oregon): 111 C; dark-eyed junco (unknown): 16; white-crowned sparrow: 1 C; Harris’s sparrow: 3 C; song sparrow: 5 K, 51 C; spotted towhee: 1 C; pine grosbeak: 9 C; house finch: 1 K, 239 C; Cassin’s finch: 2 C; common redpoll: 2 K, 55 C; pine siskin: 260 C; American goldfinch: 1 K, 189 C; evening grosbeak: 63 C; house sparrow: 25 C; white-winged crossbill: 14 K, 2 C; canvasback (rare winter species): 13 C.