CENTRAL MANITOULIN—Two-thousand two hundred and sixty-two birds of 51 species were counted at the 40th annual Mindemoya Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, December 14.
Twenty-five birders in nine groups and 30 feeder watchers took part this year.
Two bird species never before seen on the count were found: redhead ducks and the sandhill crane. The pair of redhead ducks was seen on the frigid waters of West Bay where watching conditions were appalling—a strong head wind and steaming waters. Also found there were a black scoter, nine common mergansers, a common loon and a horned grebe.
The sandhill crane was the one with an injured wing that was written up in The Expositor.
It was a very cold day with a wind chill of -29°C in the morning. On the ground was 20 centimetres or more of snow. Many lakes including Kagawong and Manitou had frozen the day before. We worked hard to find 51 species—a little higher total than usual.
Duck and gull numbers were down this year because many birds had departed south. Sightings of rough-legged hawks were low this fall and just one was seen on the count. Despite a good berry crop there were no bohemian waxwings or robins. Hairy woodpecker and blue jay numbers have recovered from the lows of last year.
American goldfinches were widespread and the count of 139 purple finches was a record high. Other finches were very hard to find. There were very few reports of pine grosbeaks, common redpolls, pine siskins and one evening grosbeak. It is thought that food supplies were good in their summer locations and there was no need for the birds to move south to look for food.
Peggy Russell of Learmont Road counted 14 bird species and will receive the 2013 award for most successful feeder watcher. Peggy went out just after midnight to listen for owls and heard the hoots of a barred owl. During the day Peggy found a ruffed grouse, a bald eagle and the only red-winged blackbird.
The Mindemoya Christmas Bird Count is sponsored by the Manitoulin Nature Club.
Here is the full list of birds seen: 4 gadwall; 34 black ducks; 53 mallards; 4 northern pintails; 2 redheads; 1 black scoter; 1 long-tailed duck; 16 buffleheads; 27 common goldeneye; 12 common merganser; 62 ring-necked pheasants; 6 ruffed grouse; 1 sharp-tailed grouse; 1 common loon; 1 horned grebe; 15 bald eagles; 1 accipiter genus hawk; 1 red-tailed hawk; 1 rough-legged hawk; 1 sandhill crane; 12 herring gulls; 1 glaucous gull; 99 rock pigeons; 161 mourning doves; 1 barred owl; 9 red-bellied woodpeckers; 31 downy woodpeckers; 55 hairy woodpeckers; 12 pileated woodpeckers; 193 blue jays; 89 common crows; 170 common ravens; 22 horned larks; 401 black-capped chickadees; 27 red-breasted nuthatches; 31 white-breasted nuthatches; 3 golden-crowned kinglets; 205 European starlings; 31 American tree sparrows; 19 dark-eyed juncos; 25 northern cardinals; 1 red-winged blackbird; 3 common grackles; 4 brown-headed cowbirds; 2 pine grosbeaks; 139 purple finches; 15 common redpolls; 7 pine siskins; 244 American goldfinches; 1 evening grosbeak; and 6 house sparrows.