Christmas Bird Count discovers some surprise new visitors to area

Cranbrook and Kimberley Counts held Wednesday, Dec. 27, and Saturday Dec. 30, respectively.

Dianne Cooper

The 20th annual Cranbrook and Kimberley Christmas Bird Counts were held on Wednesday, December 27, and Saturday December 30, 2017 respectively.

Twenty-two people took part as field observers on one or both counts, and 20 people contributed feeder counts. Most field observers live in Cranbrook or Kimberley but some came from Fernie and people from Edmonton and Vancouver, visiting family in the area, also helped out. Cranbrook and Kimberley people also participate in counts in other areas; this year they went to Fernie, Creston, and Eureka, Montana.

On Count Day, teams of counters cover as much of the 24-km diameter circle as possible to tally all birds they see; feeder counters tally the highest number of a species in their yard.

Count Week extends three days either side of Count Day. Any species NOT seen on Count Day but seen during Count Week can be included in the official report to Bird Studies Canada but numbers of individuals of “count week” species are not added to the count tally.

Cranbrook Results

• Count day: Dec. 27

• Count week: Dec. 24 -30

• Total species count day: 53

• Total species count week: 55

• Total individuals: 2,922

The weather for the Cranbrook count was cold, as usual, with temperatures ranging from -22 C to -15 C. Moyie Lake and the Cranbrook sewage lagoons were partly unfrozen. People going out into the field, driving, cross-country skiing, or walking numbered 14 intrepid birders and 13 people counted at their feeders. The 24-kilometre diameter circle goes from St. Eugene Mission to Green Bay on Moyie Lake and from Old Wycliffe to Gold Creek. Also included is the Trans-Canada Trail to Rampart Rest Area.

Fifty-three species were recorded on count day. This breaks the record of 52 species from December 2012.

One entirely new species was added to the total of 86 species ever seen on a count day — an American Coot (1). They are regular and common in the breeding season but usually migrate south for the winter. During count week (three days before and after count day), two additional species were seen: A Brown Creeper, which has been relatively abundant this fall, and a Brown Thrasher, another new species for the count circle.

The Brown Thrasher is a rare visitor to Cranbrook, having been seen twice previously, in the early months of 2013 and 2015. The bird here this year has been visiting a feeder adjacent to Joseph Creek north of the Rec Plex since the December 9, but was not seen on count day.

Another rare bird in Cranbrook this winter was a female Northern Cardinal. This is the first confirmed record for the species in British Columbia. She too, was living along Joseph Creek from November 7 to December 8. Several birders from all over the province have driven or flown to Cranbrook to view her to add her to their British Columbia life list. It would have been nice to see it on count day but she has not been spotted for a while.

The total number of individual birds counted was 2,922 which is about in the middle range (1,000 – 6,000).

Bohemian Waxwing (825) was the most numerous species, as usual. Other numerous birds included Mallard (406), Rock Pigeon (246), Common Redpoll (268), House Finch (176), Common Raven (148), and American Crow (147).

Record high counts were recorded for Bald Eagle (17), Northern Flicker (37), and Blue Jay (27). The 406 Mallards counted were the second highest ever and the 246 Rock Pigeons counted were the fifth highest.

Only 1-3 individuals were seen for 24 species such as American Goldfinch, American Robin, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Black-billed Magpie, Mourning Dove, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Golden Eagle, Great Blue Heron, and Common Merganser.

For only the third time in the count’s history, Hoary Redpoll (1), Common Merganser (1), and American Wigeon (2) were sighted.

Our favourite feeder birds such as Black-capped (125) and Mountain Chickadee (113), Downy and Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Stellar’s Jay, Song Sparrow, House Finch, and Pine Siskin were counted in their usual numbers over all, even if scare at some feeders. Evening Grosbeaks (3), low in number over the past several years, seem to have been replaced by their red-hued cousins, the Pine Grosbeak (74).

Species whose numbers appear lower than usual were Common Raven (148, average 259), Mourning Dove (1), Clark’s Nutcrackers (5), Dark-eyed Junco (7), Red Crossbill (2), and House Sparrow (11).

Notable species seen, and always nice to get were Northern Shrike (3), American Dipper (7), and Townsend’s Solitaire (13) – all showing average numbers. Two Chestnut-backed Chickadee were recorded — they sometimes frequent feeders here in the winter, having come down from higher elevations where they breed. A few American Robins may not go as far southward as the rest – only one was recorded this year, as was one American Goldfinch.

Northern Pygmy-Owl, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Brown Creeper are normally seen on count day but were not to be found this year, although the Creeper was spotted during count week.

The Count-up potluck was graciously hosted by Bob and Gretchen again this year and much warm and good food was provided and consumed.

Thanks to field counters, drivers, recordists, skiiers, hikers, feeder counters and everyone that helped make these counts successful once again! Mark your calendars for similar dates next year!

Cranbrook Christmas Bird Count 118 – Complete list of species

December 27, 2017

1. American Wigeon 2

2. Mallard 406

3. Green-winged Teal 2

4. Common Goldeneye 27

5. Barrow’s Goldeneye 1

6. Hooded Merganser 2

7. Common Merganser 1

8. Ruffed Grouse 2

9. Great Blue Heron 1

10. Golden Eagle 1

11. Northern Goshawk 1

12. Bald Eagle 17

13. Rough-legged Hawk 1

hawk sp. 1

14 . American Coot 1

15. Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 246

16. Eurasian Collared-Dove 2

17. Mourning Dove 1

18. Downy Woodpecker 19

19. Hairy Woodpecker 13

20. Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) 37

21. Pileated Woodpecker 9

22. Merlin 4

23. Northern Shrike 3

24. Gray Jay 3

25. Steller’s Jay 7

26. Blue Jay 27

27. Black-billed Magpie 1

28. Clark’s Nutcracker 5

29. American Crow 147

30. Common Raven 148

31. Black-capped Chickadee 125

32. Mountain Chickadee 113

33. Chestnut-backed Chickadee 2: chickadee sp. 9

3. Red-breasted Nuthatch 50: Brown Creeper cw

35. American Dipper 7

36. Golden-crowned Kinglet 1

37. Townsend’s Solitaire 13

38. American Robin 1: Brown Thrasher cw

39. European Starling 69

40. Bohemian Waxwing 825

41. Dark-eyed Junco 7

42. Song Sparrow 5

43. Red-winged Blackbird 5

44. Evening Grosbeak 3

45. Pine Grosbeak 74

46. House Finch 176

47. Cassin’s Finch 2

48. Common Redpoll 268

49. Hoary Redpoll 1

50. Red Crossbill 2

51. Pine Siskin 14

52. American Goldfinch 1

53. House Sparrow 11

See Kimberley Bird Count results at

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