Pinawa Life
January 2006 Newsletter Archive

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Local Christmas Bird Count


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Christmas Bird Count

Star bird is a day late for count!

Peter Taylor


    The 2005 Pinawa – Lac du Bonnet Christmas Bird Count was held on December 28th, with 22 observers spending the day in the field. Our local contingent of 14 participants was boosted by seven Winnipeg birders and a former Winnipegger now resident in New York City. The mild conditions made for a pleasant day out, but the generally poor seed and fruit crop led to low numbers of finches: totals of 171 Pine Grosbeaks, 211 Evening Grosbeaks, and just three Common Redpolls were well below normal, though 18 Pine Siskins and an American Goldfinch were welcome additions.

    The crow family was well represented as usual. I shouldn't complain that our improved garbage disposal has resulted in lower counts of ravens and magpies in recent years, compared with the old days when there were separate dumps near Pinawa, Lac du Bonnet and Seven Sisters. Both species seem to be doing just fine, despite this minor inconvenience! Crows are now common winter birds in Winnipeg, and increasingly frequent in rural areas, so a count of 8 was not surprising, though this is the first year I can recall them overwintering right in Pinawa.

    Totals of Blue Jays (134), Black-capped Chickadees (304) and White-breasted Nuthatches (27) were about normal, while numbers of Gray Jays (52), Boreal Chickadees (19) and Red-breasted Nuthatches (37) were well above average, the last of these setting a new record for our count.

    Other regular winter birds such as Ruffed and Sharp-tailed Grouse and woodpeckers were all represented, a near-record count of six Black-backed Woodpeckers being a highlight, while the elusive Spruce Grouse and American Three-toed Woodpecker went undetected as usual. Raptors were represented by three Bald Eagles and two Great Gray Owls; it was disappointing not to find a Northern Hawk Owl, since this conspicuous species has made a strong showing in southern Manitoba this winter. Nineteen Common Goldeneyes led the modest waterfowl parade.

    Nearly every year, a few waifs and strays – birds that should have migrated or shouldn't even be here at all – linger at bird feeders. There were few such birds this year; a White-throated Sparrow at Grant Delaney's feeder was seen during the “count period” (three days either side of the count), while a Dark-eyed Junco turned up there too late to be included. But the day after the count, the star of the show popped up at the Crosthwaites' house, then a couple of days later at the Drabyks. This is a Carolina Wren; a bird recorded only a dozen times previously in Manitoba and a first for our region. This is a relatively large, reddish-brown wren with a bold white eye-stripe. Please let me or Reto Zach know if it turns up at your feeder. Another is trying to overwinter at a feeder at Delta Marsh. This species from eastern North America has a track record of extending its range northward during mild winters, but these two birds are really pushing their luck!

    Many thanks to all who participated in this bird count: Garry Budyk, Glen Campbell, Mike Cavers, Jenefer Cavers, Leon Clegg, Les Crosthwaite, Paul Crosthwaite, Grant Delaney, Steve Demmings, Anita Drabyk, Ron Drabyk, Jan Dugle, Don Ferans, Barbara Hanchard, Marg Haugen, Rudolf Koes, Kathy Lloyd, Inara Schwartz, Frank Walton, Jerry Weshnoweski, and Reto Zach. For further information about this and other Christmas Bird Counts in North America, check out the website at