Anna’s Hummingbird. (Photo by Eloise Carr)

Anna’s Hummingbird. (Photo by Eloise Carr)

Creston birders spot 73 species in annual Christmas Bird Count

The totals included two birds that have never been seen before on count day

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

On Dec. 27, over 60 birders participated in Creston’s 24th annual Christmas Bird Count. This included seven birders from the Kimberley and Cranbrook area that drove icy roads in the early morning to help with the count. 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 where over 2,500 ‘circle counts’ are surveyed. The two local circle counts are sponsored by the Creston Valley Bird Festival. The second count, to include Duck and Kootenay Lake birds, scheduled for Jan. 3 was cancelled due to inclement weather.

Although this year was a cold day with the birds playing hide and seek, 73 species were counted in Creston’s circle including two birds that have never been seen on a count day – one Rusty Blackbird and four Anna’s Hummingbirds. Other rare winter species seen around town were California Quails, White-breasted Nuthatches, and two Wilson’s Snipes in the Corn Creek Marsh! Species with more than 200 birds counted were Canada Geese, Mallards, Wild Turkeys, Rock Pigeons, American Crows, Black-capped Chickadees, Bohemian Waxwings, Dark-eyed Juncos, Goldfinches, and House Finches.

This year’s biggest surprise visitors were the Anna’s Hummingbirds. These hummers do not migrate to warmer climates! They are a common year-round resident on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, and the Sunshine Coast buy they have been expanding their range to the southern interior – including Creston! Four birds were sighted on this year’s Christmas Bird Count at artificial feeders around town.

According to the Royal Society Journal and 17 years of data from the Project Feederwatch program, Anna’s have colonized colder locations over time. The winter range expansion is due to changes in climate, urbanization, and supplementary feeding which reduces their tendencies to migrate. This is a good example of how humans can alter the distribution of a species and their migratory behaviors.

Other reasons why Anna’s might be staying in our cold town lately would be that they are lost! They can be pushed from their migratory routes due to storms, such as the heat waves, fires, and floods throughout 2021. Some younger birds could get trapped in winter areas due to inexperience.

So, if you have an Anna’s Hummingbirds at your feeder during this cold spell, please make sure they get their reliable daily food. The magic potion is 1 cup of refined white sugar to 4 cups of hot water. Never use honey, brown sugar, icing sugar, juice, artificial sweetener, or food coloring as this could be toxic to the hummers. Make sure the feeders get cleaned regularly. Use 2 feeders to swap them when cleaning and replenishing. Place them in a protected place for a wind break. If close to a window, the feeder would get heat from the house. Decorate with a string of lights to generate warmth (glass feeders only).

Anna’s can go into a mini hibernation or torpor at night to consume less energy. But on sunny afternoons, watch them buzzing around town!

Thanks to the “fielder” group who braved the chilly day and the “feeder” group who enjoyed watching from their cozy homes. Without their efforts the success of this day would not be possible. We hope to see all of you at the Creston Valley Bird Festival set for May 13 to 15, 2022. Registration starts in April on www.crestonvalleybirds.ca. If you “like” us on Facebook, you can view weekly posts of “Where the birds are” in our beautiful valley!

Creston Christmas Bird Count Totals

Total Individuals – 5,877

Total Species – 73

Canada Goose – 644

Trumpeter Swan – 6

Mallard – 274

Bufflehead – 14

Common Golden-eye – 25

Barrow’s Golden-eye (cw) – 1

Hooded Merganser – 3

California Quail – 7

Ring-necked Pheasant – 26

Ruffed Grouse – 4

Wild Turkey – 238

Great Blue Heron – 1

Mourning Dove – 17

Eurasian Collared Dove – 78

Rock Pigeon – 372

Bald Eagle – Adult – 31

Bald Eagle – Immature – 7

Golden Eagle – Adult (cw) – 1

Northern Harrier – 1

Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4

Cooper’s Hawk – 2

Northern Goshawk (cw) – 1

Red-tailed Hawk – 13

Rough-legged Hawk – 6

American Kestrel – 1

Merlin – 5

Great Horned Owl – 4

Northern Pygmy Owl – 2

Downy Woodpecker – 27

Hairy Woodpecker – 7

Northern Flicker – 173

Pileated Woodpecker 7

Northern Shrike – 3

Belted Kingfisher – 3

European Starling – 104

American Dipper – 4

Steller’s Jay – 81

Blue Jay – 54

Black-billed Magpie – 54

American Crow – 392

Common Raven – 192

Black-capped Chickadee – 612

Chestnut-backed Chickadee – 54

Mountain Chickadee – 9

Brown Creeper – 9

Red-breasted Nuthatch – 54

White-breasted Nuthatch – 4

Pacific/Winter Wren – 13

Golden-crowned Kinglet – 12

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 2

American Robin – 37

Townsend’s Solitaire – 7

Bohemian Waxwing – 471

Brewer’s Blackbird – 3

Red-winged Blackbirds – 1

Spotted Towhee – 5

Dark-eyed Junco – Slate – 142

Dark-eyed Junco – Oregon – 180

Dark-eyed Junco – Unknown – 60

American Tree Sparrow – 3

Song Sparrow – 77

Harris’s Sparrow – 4

White-throated Sparrow – 9

Sparrow sp. – 10

White-winged Crossbill – 2

House Finch – 359

Purple Finch – 2

Cassin’s Finch – 2

Common Redpoll – 45

Evening Grosbeak – 28

Pine Grosbeak – 3

Pine Siskin – 194

American Goldfinch – 486

House Sparrow – 80

Anna’s Hummingbird – 4

Rusty Blackbird – 1

Wilson’s Snipe (cw) – 1

Creston ValleyWildlife