68th Pickering CBC – December 27, 2021
We held our 68th Christmas Bird Count for Pickering on Monday December 27,
2021. The count was sponsored by Pickering Naturalists. A total of 70
species were tallied, marginally above our ten-year average of 69.5
species. The highest count of the past decade was 83 species on last
year’s CBC. This year, there were 29 field observers and 12 feeder
watchers, substantially less than our record of 51 observers in 2018.
These participants tallied 18, 354 individual birds, significantly lower
than on last year’s CBC and well below our 10-year average of 25, 327. Our
14 teams for this year were out birding all day, and clocked 81 hours of
winter birding time.
At sunrise on count day, the ground was essentially bare. Conditions
changed rapidly over the course of an hour as a mid-morning mini-blizzard
swept through, depositing a shallow snowy blanket. (Note – the ice grips
that you conscientiously packed in the car with your winter gear will NOT
protect you from treacherous snow-covered ice UNLESS you actually wear
them!). Overall, CBC’ers were very relieved that the dire forecast, with
its risk of freezing rain/drizzle/lethal-precipitation and low temperatures
with lower wind chills and frost-biting winds did not come to pass. Actual
temperatures on the day ranged from minus 7 at daybreak to a high of minus
4 at sunset, with wind chills of - 13 dropping to a balmy - 11. Skies were
overcast. A mean Nor’easter inflicted winds of 11 to 32 km/hr, gusting up
to 42. Creeks were open and flowing but ponds were frozen.
Since the beginning of the count in 1949, a total of 154 species have been
recorded. You may have noted that the combination of “68th count” and
“began in 1949” is highly illogical. No, there wasn’t a time warp – in
fact, there was no Pickering CBC at all for five whole years, from 1995 to
1999. Rest assured that this violation of the prime directive (Thou shalt
count!) did not pass unnoticed by the Federation.
No additional species were added on this year’s CBC. We had our third-ever
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (the first was in 1990, and the second was last
Unusual species for this year’s CBC included Lesser Scaup – 1 (only seen on
7 previous counts, and not since 2013), American Coot – 1 (only seen on 11
previous counts), Snowy Owl – 1 (first time on CBC since 2012), and Merlin
– 2 (8th time on CBC).
We had our highest-ever counts for Carolina Wren – 6 (3 seen in 2019 and
2020; only the 10th time on the count) and Dark-eyed Junco – 727 (maximum
was 664 in 2020 and 2005). Second-highest counts were made for Mute Swan –
142 (maximum was 157 last year), Northern Flicker – 5 (maximum was 13 in
1970), White-crowned Sparrow – 4 (maximum was 6 in 1986, and 4 were seen in
2003; only 11th time on count), White-throated sparrow – 38 (maximum was 54
in 1980) and Northern Cardinal – 179 (maximum was 264 last year). Two
other relatively high tallies were those for Common Merganser – 164 (third
highest, highest since 2007, maximum was 312 in 1977) and Golden-crowned
Kinglet – 15 (highest since 2011, maximum was 86 in 1967).
Species seen only in low numbers included American Black Duck – 8, Mallard
– 463, Greater Scaup – 355, Long-tailed Duck – 86 and Wild Turkey – 16.
Each of these tallies represents only about one third to one half of the
respective 10-year average figures.
The most notable misses for this year’s CBC were Belted Kingfisher (seen on
7 of the last 10 counts), Great Horned Owl (seen on 3 of the last ten
years), Brown Creeper (only the third miss in 30 years) and Snow Bunting
(last miss was 2004).
Four species were seen during count week, but not found on the CBC day
itself. These uncooperative species were: Double-crested Cormorant (only
seen 4 times on count), Short-eared Owl (only seen 6 times on count),
Peregrine Falcon (seen in 6 of the last 11 years), and Northern Mockingbird
(seen most years). Thanks to Yogi Floegel, Gary Hayward, Martha Miller and
Jonathan & Rosemary Oliver for these additional observations.
The Pickering CBC was initiated by Dr. J. Murray Speirs on Jan. 2, 1949. The
count area extends from the shores of Lake Ontario north to the Oak Ridges
moraine. It is centred at latitude 43.902 degrees north, and longitude
79.097 degrees west. The CBC area incorporates the neighbouring community
of Ajax, as well as portions of Lynde Shores Conservation Area, including
part of Cranberry Marsh, in Durham Region.
Please visit our website at www.pickeringnaturalists.org for more
information on the club.
A heartfelt thank-you is extended to all of the field counters and feeder
watchers. Our great appreciation goes to Dan Shire and Karen McKillop, who
assembled the final tallies and completed data entry; and to Carolyn King,
who communicated with observers and provided much additional research.
This year’s compilation, including any massive mistakes, outrageous
omissions, or lapses into significant senility, was completed by the
Sorry for the late posting,