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Christmas Bird Count

Black-capped Chickadee Photo: Julie Clement

Read the latest CBC Regional Summaries:

Birds Canada and National Audubon Society are grateful for our volunteer Regional Editors, who generously volunteer their time to review CBC data and write regional summaries. 


By Yousif Attia

A total of 56 Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) submitted data in Alberta this past season, one count less than the year previous. Two new counts were added, one brand new, Lake Louise, and one historically conducted but now officially registered, BowKan (Exshaw). A total of 991 volunteers took to the fields while an equally impressive 679 were at feeders or yards. Thanks to everyone who participated in this annual tradition!

Edmonton had the most participation with 187 field counters, and 239 feeder counters. Calgary recorded the highest species diversity with 65 species, an increase of two compared to last year. Weather was typical, if not a little colder than usual. Horseshoe Canyon and Medicine Hat tied for coldest temperature reported on Count Day at -33 degrees Celsius. Nearly 138,000 individual birds of 111 species were reported during the season.

Canada Goose numbers were down, and for the first time in several consecutive years, the highest count in Canada did not come from Alberta. Odd ducks were present but in lower numbers than usual with only singles of Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Canvasback, Greater Scaup, and Long-tailed Duck.

Red Deer River reported the highest Canadian total for Ruffed Grouse (40). Two Common Loons at Hinton and a Great Blue Heron at Medicine Hat were noteworthy. An Osprey, also in Medicine Hat, is an exceptional winter record, and the only one reported in Canada. Bald Eagles were by far the most abundant raptor with a total of 190 reported across the province. Six Northern Hawk Owls at Opal and six Great Gray Owls at Cochrane Wildlife Reserve represent the highest counts for North America. Other owls were reported in usual low numbers.

Contrary to the trend in recent years, no gulls were reported during the 123rd CBC season in Alberta. The only shorebird species reported was Wilson’s Snipe (2) in Banff-Canmore. Noteworthy woodpecker counts came from Sheep River with the North American high of 15 American Three-toeds, and Edmonton with the Canadian high of 355 Downies. One White-winged Dove in Calgary was the rarest report for the province, and the only record in the country this season. The only Gyrfalcon reported was at Beaverlodge.

One Harris’s Sparrow was at Medicine Hat, and a second at Snake’s Head. A White-crowned Sparrow in Edmonton was noted, and White-throated Sparrows continue to increase with an impressive 15 reported from four circles. Single Common Grackles were in Calgary and Medicine Hat while the only Rusty Blackbird was reported at Red Deer River.

Compared to the past five years (average), finch numbers were down with low numbers of Pine Grosbeak (295; avg. 2564), Pine Siskin (71; avg. 715), and Evening Grosbeak (261; avg 467). The 123rd experienced the lowest numbers of Common Repoll in recent years, and the first time no Hoary Redpolls were reported. House Sparrows, while being the most abundant bird reported in the province, were in their lowest numbers since the 118th season, six years ago.

Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island)

By Jared Clarke

The 123rd Christmas Bird Count season was an excellent one in Atlantic Canada – a great combination of fun birding, wintry weather and celebrating our communities. A typical fall with plenty of winds from the south and west led to an array of vagrants and displaced migrants hanging on into winter, while a cold snap in December signaled an early start to winter. The weather fluctuated across the region and throughout the season, with some circles reporting colder than average temperatures and others slightly milder.  All in all, it was an interesting time!

A total of 92 counts were completed in the Atlantic region this season: with 48 in New Brunswick, 31 in Nova Scotia, 10 in Newfoundland & Labrador and three in Prince Edward Island. Participation was excellent as always with ~2105 total participants, 1390 of which put in nearly 3500 hours in the field. The bird tally was down slightly from last season with 184 species recorded throughout the region (including a few count week observations) – but there were still many highlights, including a number of rare and lingering species.

A long-staying Pink-footed Goose was once again recorded in St. John’s (NL), placing this rare species on the list for the sixth season in a row. A notable 14 Snow Geese were spotted in NS – the only other species of goose in the region besides the widespread Canada Goose. Tufted Duck numbers were up modestly over last year, with 64 in St. John’s (NL) and individuals in both Chezzetcook and Halifax-Dartmouth (NS). A total of four locally rare Ruddy Ducks were spotted in NB and NS.

Shorebird diversity was up significantly compared to the last two seasons with a total of 14 species recorded, mostly in NS.  The most exciting report was Nova Scotia’s third ever Black-tailed Godwit in Halifax-Dartmouth – a huge surprise, especially at this time of year, when it was discovered the day before the count. Other notable records included four Long-billed Dowitchers and three lingering Lesser Yellowlegs in NS. Tallies of 361 Sanderling, 144 Dunlin and 14 Red Knots are also high for the region. Only three Wilson’s Snipe were reported in the region, although a count week American Woodcock in NS was a little surprising. Purple Sandpipers were somewhat below average with a total of 308 (221 of which were recorded in NL).

Willow Ptarmigan were recorded in three different circles in NL, including six at Cape Race. A total of three Rock Ptarmigan were spotted during the Bonne Bay (NL) count, no doubt atop the Long Range Mountains which are not accessible some years. A record 313 Wild Turkeys were recorded on 13 counts in NB – the bulk from Woodstock (90), Hartland (53), Perth-Andover (47), and Mactaquac (43) which are all near the border with Maine. These birds represent the only established population in the region but do appear to be spreading. Unfortunately, the often-elusive Gray Partridge on PEI did not make an appearance during counts this season.

Diurnal raptors are always a highlight during the season, and there were plenty of notable reports this year. Turkey Vultures continue to establish in the Maritimes, with an excellent 137 recorded across NS and 87 in neighbouring NB. Much rarer, but showing up more regularly in Atlantic Canada, was the Black Vulture spotted at Pictou Harbour (NS). Bald Eagles are also doing well, although totals were down slightly from last year with 1603 individuals reported across all four provinces. Single Broad-winged Hawks were reported in both NB and NS – down slightly from recent years, but still notable at this time of year. A Gyrfalcon at Restigouche (NB) is always exciting, and the only one reported this season. A grand total of 21 Peregrine Falcons, 36 Merlin and ten American Kestrels was also a good showing for the region.

It was another slow season for Snowy Owls, with just single individuals reported from NB and NS. Barred Owls put in a good showing with an impressive 41 reports from NB (6) and NS (35), reflecting their steady increase in the Maritimes. Northern Saw-whet Owls were pretty much on par with 18 individuals, while the number of Great Horned (14) and Short-eared owls (3) were both slightly below average. Four Long-eared Owls in NS round out the list of six species found this season.

Woodpeckers were on great display this year including a record 75 Red-bellied Woodpeckers in NS & NB, as well as one each in NL and PEI where they are locally rare. Six Black-backed and a lone American Three-toed Woodpecker which often goes undetected during the count period were tallied in NB and NS. Four Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were notable for the time of year. Carolina Wrens, which have been increasing in the Maritimes in recent years, were detected in only NB (10) this season. A total of ten Winter Wrens, four Marsh Wrens, and one House Wren were also reported in the region. Tufted Titmouse was reported in four different count circles in NB – a small but notable increase for this species that just barely makes it into Canada.

Rare and lingering warblers are often a “prize” of the season in Atlantic Canada. A total of eight species were recorded this year, down slightly from the boon of recent years. Yellow-rumped Warblers were once again abundant in NS with a total of 172 reported, including a remarkable 78 at Yarmouth, 24 at White Point, and 21 at Lunenburg. Other more-or-less expected species included Pine Warbler (26), Orange-crowned Warbler (22), Yellow-breasted Chat (18), Common Yellowthroat (4), and Palm Warbler (2). The hands-down rarest warbler of the season was a Hermit Warbler discovered in St. John’s (NL) – a surprising 5th record for the province! Yellow-throated Warblers were recorded in Mactaquac (NB), Truro (NS) and St. John’s (NL).

Other lingering birds of note in the region included 14 Great Blue Herons (NB, NS & PEI), one Great Egret (NB), 11 American Coots (NB,NS & NL), four Eastern Phoebe (NS), nine Gray Catbirds (NS), 22 Northern Mockingbirds (NB & NS), two Eastern Bluebirds (NS), six Hermit Thrush (NB & NS), 21 Brown-headed Cowbirds (NB, NS & PEI), 12 Baltimore Orioles (NB, NS & NL) and four Rusty Blackbirds (NB). A total of 1327 Northern Cardinals were recorded across the region.

One of the most exceptional records for Atlantic Canada was a Green-tailed Towhee, which lingered for four weeks this winter at Sackville (NB). Also remarkable in the region at any time of year were a Little Gull at Pictou Harbour (NS), a Common Gull at Springville (NS) and a Snowy Egret at Cape Sable Island (NS). Vagrants from western Canada also put in a showing including a Mountain Bluebird at Cape Tormentine (NB) and Western Tanager at Antigonish (NS). Other notables for the area included a Brown Thrasher (NB), two Eastern Towhees (NB & NS), three Dickcissels (NS & NL), and an Orchard Oriole (NS). Locally uncommon sparrows were a Field Sparrow (NB) and two Clay-coloured Sparrows (NS).

Overall, finch numbers continued to decrease for the second season in a row after a large irruption two winters ago.  Only Pine Grosbeak (846) and Evening Grosbeak (6658) showed slight increases overs last season. White-winged Crossbill (81) was down significantly after a banner winter last year, with Red Crossbill (85) also showing a drop in numbers. Purple Finch (291), House Finch (58), Common Redpoll (674), Pine Siskin (343) reports were well down from recent years, while American Goldfinch (11,544) returned to near-average levels. Interestingly, House Sparrows (1043) reports were down ~40% across the region compared to recent years.

British Columbia

By Monica Nugent

A total of 87 Christmas Bird Counts in British Columbia (BC) submitted data for the 123rd (2022-23) count. The most day counts took place on Saturday, December 17th (19), followed by Sunday, December 18th (16), and Tuesday, December 27th (9). Victoria had the most counters in the field (306), followed by Vancouver (151), Galiano-North Salt Spring Island (121), and Pitt Meadows (104). Victoria had the most Feeder Counters (51), followed by Parksville- Quallicum Beach (44), Galiano-North Salt Spring Island (40), and Sydney- South Salt Spring Island (21).

A total of 907,731 individual birds of 251 species were tallied by 2729 field counters and 611 feeder counters. Victoria was the top count with 137 species on count day, an increase of one species over last year.

The top 10 most abundant species in BC, in order of most to least abundant were: Mallard, American Wigeon, European Starling, Dunlin, Canada Goose, Bohemian Waxwing, Dark-eyed Junco, Glaucous-winged Gull, American Robin, and Northern Pintail. The coldest count award goes this year to Logan Lake (-40 Celsius). The warmest count was Savona-Walhachin (18 Celsius).

Species and notes

Mallard (78,094) was again the most abundant waterfowl species reported in BC followed by American Wigeon (67,777), and Canada Goose (43,844). A long staying Tufted Duck was reported in Duncan and a (Eurasian) Green-winged Teal in Jaffray-Wardner. One Dusky Grouse was seen in Oliver- Osoyoos, down from two last year. Sharp-tailed Grouse (50) were located in Merritt, Dawson Creek, and 100 Mile House. Horned Grebe (3006) was the most abundant Grebe species followed by Red-necked Grebe (972), and Western Grebe (850). An American Bittern was a highlight in Pitt Meadows. Victoria recorded the highest Pacific Loon total (349), followed by Parksville-Quallicum Beach (261) and Pender Island (212). Bamfield recorded the only Cassin’s Auklet (2). Dunlin were again the most abundant shorebird (48,425), followed by Black Turnstone (3026), Killdeer (889), and Black-bellied Plover (487) which was a drop of 1314 for this species from last year. Deep Bay had the high count for Black Oystercatcher (220), Pender Islands for Surfbird (363). One Ruddy Turnstone was recorded in Deep Bay. An American Avocet was recorded in Ladner.

Bald Eagles again, were the most abundant raptor with Harrison River’s count of 602 the highest.

Ancient Murrelet (4681) was the most widely reported alcid with the highest count in Pender Harbour. Common Murre (4166) followed closely. Victoria had the highest count for Brandt’s Cormorant (2591). Sooke had the highest count for Double-crested Cormorant (874) as well as Pelagic Cormorant (654).

A total of 283 owls of nine species was another decrease compared to 303 owls of 12 species located during the 122nd count. Only a single Long- eared Owl was reported. No Snowy, Great Gray, Northern Hawk, or Boreal owls were located on count day.

No Gyrfalcons or Prairie Falcons were reported. Merlins topped the category with 150.

High numbers of Western Bluebirds (430) continued in the Okanagan and Mountain Bluebirds (6) were located in Vancouver (2), Oliver-Osoyoos (3), and Greater Masset (1). One Gray Catbird was seen in Vernon. California Scrub-Jays (14) experienced a northward irruption with a high count in Ladner (7). Bohemian Waxwing numbers surged this year to 41,590 up from last year’s number of 33,000.


By Robert Parsons

There were 20 counts held across the province this year, with the loss of Brandon, and a new count at East Braintree. The weather was not mentioned by compilers as a factor.

As usual, Winnipeg had the greatest number of count day species, with 44, followed by 38 at Cypress River and 37 at Portage, neck and neck for second and third spot.

There were 73 count day species recorded, two fewer than last year.  There were two additional species recorded in count week only, Northern Hawk Owl at Selkirk and Barred Owl at Balmoral.  There were five species found on every count: Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Common Raven, and Black-capped Chickadee.  At the other end, there were 15 species found on one count only.  Those not mentioned elsewhere were Spruce Grouse at The Pas, Willow Ptarmigan at Cranberry Portage, Golden Eagle at Lyleton, Red-tailed Hawk at Glenboro, American Coot in Winnipeg, Great Gray Owl at Riding Mountain, American Three-toed Woodpecker at Pinawa, Black-backed Woodpecker at Cranberry Portage, American Kestrel at Carman, Gyrfalcon at Portage la Prairie, and Hoary Redpoll at Pinawa.

Perhaps the most surprising bird was an immature Trumpeter Swan successfully overwintering on a tiny lead of open water in a ditch at Oak Hammock Marsh, a first for a Manitoba CBC.  Two American Black Ducks were reported in Winnipeg, although one of them later was noted to have some features indicating at least a little Mallard ancestry.  Canada Geese were reported from six counts and Common Goldeneye from five.

Eurasian Collared-Doves numbered 86 across six counts, with the bulk being 37 at Portage La Prairie, followed by 22 at Glenboro, and 21 at Cypress River.  Mourning Doves were found on two counts, with four at Delta Marsh/Portage Plains and one at Minnedosa.

Single Short-eared Owls graced Lyleton and Oak Hammock with their presence, as did a Northern Saw-whet Owl in Winnipeg.  A Red-headed Woodpecker was a surprise at Carman, as was a Red-bellied Woodpecker at Cypress River.  The latter species also numbered three in Winnipeg.

Brown Thrashers were found at Cypress River and Winnipeg. It wasn’t a stellar year for overwintering sparrows but did include six American Tree Sparrows at Portage La Prairie.  Seven Northern Cardinals were found, with two each at Oak Hammock and Pinawa, and singles at Portage La Prairie, Selkirk, and Winnipeg.

Winter finches weren’t remarkable unless American Goldfinch, with 734 across 11 counts, qualifies as a winter finch.

Northern Canada

The 123rd Christmas Bird Count went ahead in Northern Canada with nine counts in the Yukon Territory (YT), six in Northwest Territories (NT), and two in Nunavut (NU). 

Yukon led the way in species diversity with 36 species (plus four Count Week species followed by Northwest Territories with 22 species (plus one Count Week species), and Nunavut reported two species, including the only confirmed Rock Ptarmigan for the region, which is also the highest count in Canada. Count Week species in the Yukon Territory were Sharp-tailed Grouse, Great Horned Owl, Northern Hawk Owl and Northern Shrike. 

Whitehorse reported the highest number of Count Day species at 28, followed by Carcross (18 species) and Haines Junction (17 species). Of the four species of waterfowl reported, Mallard was the most abundant, followed by Common Goldeneye and single reports of American Wigeon, and Common Merganser at Whitehorse. Bald Eagle led the way in terms of abundance in the raptor department and only one American Goshawk was reported at Whitehorse. 

Bohemian Waxwing was the most abundant species during the 123rd, followed by Common Raven. A Chipping Sparrow at Haines Junction was rare and only the only Pine Siskins reported (6) were at Carcross.

Thanks to everyone who braved the northern temperatures to contribute to this program!


By Mike Burrell

After two years of Covid-impacted counts, year 123 was close to a return to “normal” for Ontario Christmas Bird Counts. We had four counts back that missed year 122 but six counts went the other direction (or at least their data submissions did!). Ontario also welcomed one new counts, Goderich, to bring the number of counts run this year to 123 – tied with last year for the third highest total ever, just three behind the record 126 from three years ago. Hopefully count year 124 is fully back to our normal record-setting ways.

The weather patterns leading up to count day always play a big role. This year, the entire province saw fairly warm temperatures through November leading into the count period. Most counts were done in good conditions with below average snow on the ground, above average open water and above average temperatures. The major weather impact came in the form of a significant winter storm that hit right around Christmas Eve, centred on Niagara Falls and Buffalo, NY.

Count day weather was again pretty comfortable this year, with an average low of just -4.5° C and high of -0.1° C; just about as warm as ever. Forty-nine counts had temperatures that cracked the freezing mark this year, which, is up from last year’s 43 but lower than the two previous years of 73 and 51. Dunnville was this year’s hotspot with a count day high of 13° C. Thunder Bay and Hearst tied for the lowest recorded temperature at -24° C; we’ll give the tie-breaker to Hearst who only got up to -16° C. Just 37 counts reported a maximum snow depth of 10 cm or less, the fewest we’ve seen in several years (down from 91 last year!), so there was certainly more snow on the ground than we’ve seen in recent years, especially in the second half of the count period.

There were 3455 observers in the field this year, up about 50 from last year and inching closer to the record counts of close to 3700 in the years prior to the pandemic. Still, this total represents the fourth highest total ever. Feeder watchers were down about 50 from last year’s 1225, but good enough for third all time. Added together, field and feeder counters totalled 4626, good enough for fourth all time. A total of 8411 party hours were logged, which was down about 500 from last year’s record and good enough for fourth all time. Observers logged a very impressive 69,782 km on count days, about average for the last several years. For the seventh straight year, Ottawa-Gatineau led the pack with the most field observers, this year with 153. Kingston again led the way for feeder counters with a whopping 99.

A total of 179 species were reported from all counts, right on the average from the past ten years. That total increased by four with the addition of count week species (Great Cormorant, Osprey, White-eyed Vireo, and Mountain Bluebird).

Blenheim and Long Point have basically alternated for most species over the last several years and this year Blenheim held onto that honour with 113 species. Long Point (105) was the only other count that cracked 100 species this year. Just three other counts surpassed 90 species: Point Pelee (97), Hamilton (96), and Toronto (91). With five counts over 90 species, we were just below the recent average of six. In general, it was a pretty average year for most counts, with the average count species total of 50.9 almost bang on the recent average of 51 and a fairly even split of above average and below average individual species totals. London (79), Ottawa-Gatineau (77), and Kitchener (70) led the way for inland counts. Nipigon-Red Rock led the way among northern counts with 34 species, followed by Fort Frances (32) and Thunder Bay (31). Blenheim again led the way with 20 provincial highs, and it was the usual suspects rounding out the top five: Long Point (14), Toronto (13), Ottawa-Gatineau (10), and Point Pelee (8). Blenheim led the way for Canadian highs as well, with eight, followed by Toronto (6), Long Point (5), Point Pelee (5), and Cedar Creek and St. Clair N.W.A. both tied with three each. In total, 32 Ontario counts records a total of 64 Canadian highs this year.

A total of 1,324,754 individuals were counted, the highest since count year 116 and about 50,000 higher than the recent average. The top five species this year were the same species (but slightly different order) as last year with American Crow (225,900), Canada Goose (196284), European Starling (127,633), Mallard (74,359), and Black-capped Chickadee (55,286).

Despite it being another overall better than average count year, some species were noticeably down. The following 28 species were recorded in numbers of 50% or less of their 20-year average: Canvasback (3136), Greater Scaup (18,343), Lesser Scaup (2048), Ring-necked Pheasant (18), Gray Partridge (7), Red-throated Loon (8), Rough-legged Hawk (222), Bonaparte’s Gull (4018), Little Gull (2), Thayer’s Gull (1), Glaucous Gull (59), Great Black-backed Gull (936), Snowy Owl (27), Great Gray Owl (1), Long-eared Owl (8), Short-eared Owl (12), Boreal Chickadee (25), Marsh Wren (3), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (9), Northern Mockingbird (75), American Pipit (10), Yellow-rumped Warbler (31), Eastern Towhee (9), Rusty Blackbird (96), Purple Finch (165), Red Crossbill (49), White-winged Crossbill (39), Common Redpoll (1673), Hoary Redpoll (3), and Pine Siskin (920). Some of the waterbirds were down at least partly because of the missed Niagara Falls count. Other low counts (e.g. Boreal Chickadee, Great Black-backed Gull, Ring-necked Pheasant, and Gray Partridge) are part of well-documented and long-term trends. Irruptive finches and owls make up the bulk of the remaining species in this category this year.

There were a few relatively big misses this year, most notably Eastern Meadowlark (missed only once in the previous 39 years). Vesper Sparrow (recorded on six of the past ten counts), Northern Hawk Owl (last missed in count year 108), and Pine Warbler (seven of the last ten) and Orange-crowned Warbler (nine of ten) round out the other “big” misses this year.

There were some excellent counts recorded, even with fewer counts reporting. The following 32 species reported counts of 50% or more of their 20-year average (five fewer than last year): Greater White-fronted Goose (7), Cackling Goose (104*), Mute Swan (2800), Trumpeter Swan (1505*), Northern Shoveler (572), Northern Pintail (431), Green-winged Teal (89), Redhead (24651), Harlequin Duck (14), Surf Scoter (325), Hooded Merganser (2271), Ruddy Duck (3981), Sharp-tailed Grouse (206), Wild Turkey (11,992), Horned Grebe (147), Red-necked Grebe (224), Turkey Vulture (172), Bald Eagle (1920), Sandhill Crane (4856), Killdeer (73), Sanderling (2), Dunlin (10), Wilson’s Snipe (8), Iceland Gull (99), Red-bellied Woodpecker (1861), Merlin (123), Peregrine Falcon (48), Tufted Titmouse (261), Carolina Wren (544), Bohemian Waxwing (18,739*), Dickcissel (2*), and Evening Grosbeak (8533).

Just four of those species (marked with an asterisk; down from 18 last year) above also set new record highs. The theme for species with good showings this year were waterbirds (20 species), especially shorebirds and then another big group are species that are showing long-term increasing trends (e.g., Trumpeter Swan, Bald Eagle, Merlin, Red-bellied Woodpecker etc.). Two irruptive species (Bohemian Waxwing and Evening Grosbeak) also made the list, in stark contrast to the majority of irruptive species that made the “other” list.

As mentioned above, it was mostly a very poor year for irruptive species on Ontario CBCs. Owls were all very low (e.g. lowest Snowy Owl result since count year 111 and lowest Long-eared Owl total since count year 63 and we completely missed Boreal and Northern Hawk owls). Irruptive finches were also very low with the exception of Evening Grosbeak and Bohemian Waxwing which both had good showings, particularly the latter which set a new provincial high.

There are always some exciting finds on CBCs, and this year was no exception. While we did not add any new species to the all-time list, some of the highlights included Western Sandpiper on Blenheim (just the 2nd ever on an Ontario CBC), Green Heron on Kettle Point (4th), Yellow-throated Warbler on Delta (5th), Indigo Bunting on Nipigon-Red Rock (5th), Spotted Sandpiper (6th) and Barn Owl (8th) on Blenheim, Northern Waterthrush on Cedar Creek (9th),  Sanderling on Long Point (11th), and Dickcissel on both Long Point and Point Pelee (14).

All in all, it was another excellent CBC season here in Ontario with highs, lows, and everything in between. Here’s to all the hard work the huge team of volunteers put in to making the count a success and for another good year in count year 124-it’s just around the corner!


By Patrick Filiatrault

The 123rd Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was interesting in Quebec again this year, although there were seven species less than the average of the last five counts. A total of 129 species, plus two species of domestic origin (Mallard of domestic origin, Ring-necked Pheasant) and an American Black Duck x Mallard hybrid were observed on count day. This total is divided into 48 aquatic species (37% of all species), 17 raptors (diurnal and nocturnal; 13%), and 64 terrestrial birds (grouse, woodpeckers, passerines; 50%).

Although the temperatures of November (52nd hottest November in 103 years of observations in Quebec) and December (3rd hottest December) were above the monthly average, several bodies of water were covered in ice on census days. During the second half of December, some weather events may have influenced the success of the counts: heavy snow on December 17th reducing visibility, snowstorm or rain depending on the region with winds on the 23rd, and mild temperatures in early January.

Thirty-eight counts took place in Quebec, which is slightly below the average (40) of recent years. The counts were held from December 14th to January 4th. The most popular day was December 17th with 11 counts, followed by December 18th with nine. A total of 1131 people took part in the counts, which is stable since the start of the COVID pandemic. The Quebec CBC had the most observers (152), followed by Lennoxville (92), Montreal (68), and Hudson (65).

Bird species observed in Quebec counts totaled 278,317 individuals (67,000 less than last year). Granby ranked first with 33,781 birds, mainly due to the presence of the American Crow (27,990), followed by St-Timothee (30,218) with 19,521 Snow Geese, Otterburn Park with 26,240 birds (including 20,481 Canada Geese), and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu with 19,470 birds (including 7130 Canada Geese and 6566 American Crows). Quebec (19,013), Lennoxville (18,664), Longueuil (15,451), Montreal (14,112) and Mirabel (12,890) are the other CBC to exceed the 10,000 birds mark. Quebec [city] had the highest number of species (77), followed by Longueuil (71), Hudson (63), Montreal (59), and Lennoxville (58).

Four species have been reported in all circles: Hairy Woodpecker, Common Raven, Blue Jay and Black-capped Chickadee. Rock [Feral] Pigeon, Downy Woodpecker and American Crow were recorded on 37 counts, while Mourning Dove and European Starling were recorded on 36 counts. The total number of individuals per species in the 38 circles, which exceeds 10,000, are: American Crow with 55,148, Canada Goose (48,361), European Starling (22,871), Snow Goose (21,852), Rock [Feral] Pigeon (15,423), Black-capped Chickadee (13,991) and Snow Bunting (11,414). It is interesting to mention that for northern passerines, the numbers are high for recent years: Bohemian Waxwing (5209), Pine Grosbeak (1544), Evening Grosbeak (3631), and Snow Bunting (4873 last year by comparison). On the other hand, the Common Redpoll (1122) is at a low number, while the Northern Shrike (40) and the Dark-eyed Junco (3026) were average for the last years.

Among species threatened or vulnerable or likely to be designated as such, we note 35 Harlequin Ducks (Forillon, Percé, Quebec) and 1285 Barrow’s Goldeneyes (distributed in 9 CBCs). The Bald Eagle totaled 132 individuals in 28 CBC, while the Peregrine Falcon (10 individuals) was reported in six counts. Finally, Rusty Blackbird was seen on four circles for a total of five individuals.

In terms of rare species (in general, or for the season), note the following species observed on Count Day: Greater White-fronted Goose (Otterburn Park and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu), Ross’s Goose (Otterburn Park and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu), Canvasback (Longueuil), Northern Fulmar (Otterburn Park and Chicoutimi-Jonquière), Common Murre (Forillon and Percé), Lesser Black-backed Gull (Quebec), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Forillon), Winter Wren (Longueuil) , Townsend’s Solitaire (Longueuil), Gray Catbird (Chicoutimi-Jonquière), Yellow-rumped Warbler (Neuville-Tilly), and Eastern Towhee (Cowansville, Neuville-Tilly, Percé).

Finally, worth mentioning are species not often reported during Count Day: American Wigeon (Montreal), King Eider (Quebec), Spruce Grouse (Parc Aiguebelle), Thick-billed Murre (Percé), Red-shouldered Hawk (Ahuntsic-Laval and Longueuil), Long-eared Owl (Longueuil), American Three-toed Woodpecker (Chicoutimi-Jonquière), Black-backed Woodpecker (Chicoutimi-Jonquière and Tadoussac), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Neuville-Tilly), and Red Crossbill (Hudson).


By Guy Wapple

A total of 39 circles in Saskatchewan reported, a slight increase of two areas compared with 2021-22.

Weather conditions on this year’s Christmas bird count averaged warmer, with less wind compared to the 122nd. However, there generally were above-average snow depths to deal with, not to mention several counts with fog. Average minimum and maximum temperatures for the count period (with 2021-22 records in brackets) were -17 to -13 C (-22 to -17 C), wind speeds 8 to 17 km/h (11 to 22 km/h), and snow depths 18 to 39 cm (15 to 29 cm).

Gardiner Dam and Saskatoon tied for the provincial crown bragging rights, each finding 38 species. Saskatoon also added a Bald Eagle during count period. Regina 33 (plus 5 cw), Fort Qu’Appelle 29 (plus 5 cw), Pike Lake 29 (plus 1 cw) were only other counts breaking the magic 30 species mark. As a result, the average result decreased slightly to 21.8 species per count, compared to 23.4 last year.

Having said all that, this was still a fairly decent CBC year in Saskatchewan with 85 species reported: 83 on count day, with two during count week only – California Gull and White-crowned Sparrow. The California Gull was a new CBC species for the province.

As was an amazing Ivory Gull, which showed up amongst people ice-fishing at Turtle Lake in mid-December!!! Unfortunately, while it was recorded on that CBC shortly thereafter, it was not on an “official” count!

Waterfowl were generally found in lower-than-average numbers and variety in their few overwintering locations. In contrast was a significant increase in the number of upland game birds, with Gray Partridge and Sharp-tailed Grouse doubling their numbers. The 824 Gray Partridge at Morse established a new CBC record count! Ring-necked Pheasant also did very well, including an impressive 312 at Estevan!!!

 Diurnal raptors (hawks and falcons) were generally found at or near normal numbers.

Trends for owls were, however, a different story. Boreal Forest owls were almost absent from the forest fringe with only two Northern Hawk Owls on two counts and just one Great Gray. Farther south only two Short-eared Owls were found at two locations, compared to 21 at seven last year. While Snowy Owl numbers were about average, Great Horneds dropped by 50 per cent.

Results for finches were mixed. After a major invasion last year, Common Redpoll numbers imploded, while no Hoary Redpolls were reported at all!!! Reports of Pine Grosbeak also declined drastically, while Evenings remained stable across the southern Boreal Forest. White-winged Crossbills increased significantly, while their Red cousins only turned up in four circles. Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch numbers were solid. The latter now regularly overwinter in Saskatchewan, with an impressive 45 reported quite far north at Prince Albert.