The 49th Algonquin Park Christmas Bird Count was held on Friday, December 30. The 65 observers experienced conditions that were good in the morning, but periods of light drizzle in the afternoon probably affected birding effectiveness and did reduce the total hours in the field. The day was calm and temperatures were mild (3 to 8 degrees C). However, getting through the snow on the ground (max. depth about 40 cm) was strenuous in many areas, an important factor in this count which is done almost entirely on foot due to the lack of accessible roads.
There were 21 species reported (average: 27) and 1,037 individuals (average: 4,025). These lower-than-normal numbers were mainly due to the poor to non-existent tree seed crops in Algonquin this winter. Indicative of the food scarcity, the massive southward movement of Blue Jays this fall resulted in only one being observed on the count (in Mew Lake Campground where some campers feed birds). For comparison, during a better wild food crop year there were 330 Blue Jays tallied on the 2021 count. Finch variety and numbers were low: Evening Grosbeak (18), Pine Grosbeak (7), and Pine Siskin (1). Boreal species counts were Spruce Grouse (3), Black-backed Woodpecker (3), Boreal Chickadee (2) and Canada Jay (25). All but one of the Canada Jays were colour-banded, and so this total does not involve counting individuals more than once. The 25 observed included nearly all the known remaining Canada Jay population along Highway 60 within the count circle. Research since the 1960s has shown that Canada Jay numbers are declining steadily in Algonquin Park, apparently due to climate warming that destroys stored winter food during thaws.
Species observed during Count Week were Bald Eagle (1), Northern Shrike (1), Common Redpoll (1), Red Crossbill (2), White-winged Crossbill (2), American Goldfinch (2) and Snow Bunting (1).
Thanks to all who participated in the count and often drove long distances to do so. The Friends of Algonquin Provincial Park provided staff to prepare and serve the after-count supper, which was very much appreciated. And thanks to Ontario Parks for its assistance with the logistics of the CBC.
Algonquin Park CBC Compiler (1974-2022)