A great horned owl scowls about the rainy weather. (Photo: “the Wanderer”)

A great horned owl scowls about the rainy weather. (Photo: “the Wanderer”)

Creston birders spot 72 species in 25th annual Christmas bird count

Over 3,500 birds were spotted, down from 5,800 the previous year

Submitted by Ulrike Sliworsky, co-ordinator of Creston Valley Christmas Bird Count and Creston Valley Bird Festival

On Dec. 27, 22 volunteers braved a dismal rainy day for the 25th annual Creston Valley Christmas Bird Count.

The soggy looking Great Horned Owl perfectly reflects how all the volunteers looked on count day. The count also included the findings from the bird feeders of 15 “citizen scientists”. Without volunteer efforts, the success of this longest-running wildlife survey would not be possible.

The weather and lack of volunteers played a part in low numbers of birds seen this year. A total of 3,555 birds were spotted this year, down from 5,877 the year prior. The final species count was 72, which is comparable to previous years.

The 24km-diameter count circle had areas that were not surveyed including Wynndel, the Lakeview/Arrowcreek Road, some of the Canyon area, and Highway 21. If there is an interest in participating in next year’s count, please email info@crestonvalleybirds.ca.

From the count, we noticed the California Quail population seems to be growing in the valley with a big group in Wynndel and on the Goat River Road. The Pine Siskin population has plummeted, possibly due to the avian flu. Last year, close to 3,000 Siskins were counted compared to the 42 seen this year. Only one lone owl was seen this year. Grosbeaks were scarce (six Pine Grosbeaks were spotted on Dec. 30, but no Evening Grosbeaks were found anywhere). One exciting find was a couple of Horned Larks on Reclamation Road!

On January 3, 2023 the Kuskanook Christmas Bird Count produced 13 additional species. This area includes Duck Lake and Kootenay Lake with a northern boundary at the Glass House. With the big lake not being frozen, some water birds were found including four Grebe species (Red-necked, Pied-Bill, Horned, and Western). A Northern Pygmy Owl and three Short-eared Owls were sighted. Two Golden Eagles made an appearance. And a huge flock of Snow Buntings were seen in a field off Channel Road.

Visit the Creston Valley Bird Festival website at wildsight.ca/branches/creston-valley/birdfest to read about for “Where the Birds Are” every week on Sunday mornings. The Bird Fest will be held May 12 to 14, 2023. Registration starts in April.

Creston species counted:

Common loon – 1

Canada Goose – 430

Trumpeter Swan – 1

Tundra Swan – 1

Mallard – 67

American Coot – 1

Ring-necked Duck – 1

American Wigeon – 1

Bufflehead -1

Common Golden-eye – 4

Hooded Merganser – 1

Common Merganser – 1

Lesser Scaup – 1

California Quail – 31

Ring-necked Pheasant – 14

Ruffed Grouse – 5

Wild Turkey – 91

Great Blue Heron – 1

Mourning Dove – 27

Eurasian Collared-Dove – 6

Rock Pigeon – 440

Bald Eagle – adult – 4

Bald Eagle – immature – 2

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1

Cooper’s Hawk – 3

Red-tailed Hawk – 7

Rough-legged Hawk – 3

American Kestrel – 1

Merlin – 1

Great Horned Owl – 1

Downy Woodpecker – 4

Hairy Woodpecker – 1

Northern Flicker – 77

Pileated Woodpecker – 4

Northern Shrike – 1

Belted Kingfisher – 1

European Starling – 327

American Dipper – 1

Steller’s Jay – 5

Blue Jay – 18

Black-billed Magpie – 15

American Crow – 226

Common Raven – 35

Black-capped Chickadee – 306

Chestnut-backed Chickadee – 4

Brown Creeper – 2

Red-breasted Nuthatch – 55

Pacific/Winter Wren – 6

Marsh Wren – 9

Golden-crowned Kinglet – 9

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1

American Robin – 97

Townsend’s Solitaire – 9

Varied Thrush – 2

Cedar Waxwing – 1

Bohemian Waxwing – 526

Red-winged Blackbird – 1

Spotted Towhee – 4

Dark-eyed Junco – Slate – 114

Dark-eyed Junco – Oregon – 164

Dark-eyed Junco – Unknown – 65

American Tree Sparrow – 1

Song Sparrow – 18

White-throated Sparrow – 1

Other Sparrows – 3

Red Crossbill – 18

House Finch – 146

Common Redpoll – 6

Pine Grosbeak – 1

Pine Siskin – 42

American Goldfinch – 8

House Sparrow – 91

Horned Lark – 1

Total species – 72

Total individual birds – 3,555

READ MORE: Nelson birders walk the lakeshore for Christmas bird count

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