53rd annual Gore Bay Christmas bird count held

This beautiful Ruffed Grouse was among 49 species of birds counted in the 53rd annual Gore Bay Christmas Bird count held on December 20.

GORE BAY – The 53rd annual Gore Bay Christmas bird count was held on Sunday, December 20 with 3,047 individual birds of 49 species counted this year. 

This year’s count was a much better result than last year when 35 species were counted. Walking and driving conditions were good and the count day weather was relatively calm with temperatures fluctuating around 0°C.

The North Channel, Lake Wolsey and Lake Kagawong were open and there was water in some streams. With the open water, six species of ducks were sighted. One horned grebe and six red-necked grebes were seen in the North Channel. Nice to be spotted this year were three turkey vultures, seven rough-legged hawks, one kestrel and a common loon.

Fifty-three bald eagles were counted, beating the previous high count in 2018. This species was first counted when one was in the 1979 count. A former member of the field team remarked recently that, “in the old days, a dead fish was put on the Indian Point Bridge to attract one in to be counted.” Birders don’t recreate that on December 20.

Although never a high number and missed just a few times, three northern shrike were seen this year. Sadly, no owls were seen this year.

The most numerous birds this year were black-capped chickadees at 492 and common goldeneye at 323. Four species were represented by one individual each. Among this group was a single brown creeper.

Although 91 pine grosbeaks were counted, we were once again shutout of evening grosbeaks. Common redpolls were seen throughout the count circle, numbering 145 in total. Purple finches were represented by two individual birds.

Snow buntings were seen beyond the count circle but just one sighting was made within the count circle during count week (the three-day period just before and after the actual count day).

Thirty-four feeder watchers took part in this year’s count. Fifteen members were in six field teams within the count circle while maintaining COVID-19 bubble and distancing requirements.

We appreciate the efforts made by all in this unusual year. We also appreciate the continued sponsorship of the Manitoulin Nature Club. Due to the pandemic no potluck was held this year. The count was tallied by Judy and Terry Land.

53rd Gore Bay Christmas bird count: Canada goose, 40; American black duck, seven; mallards, 24; bufflehead, three; common goldeneye, 323; hooded mergansers, four; common mergansers, 14; ring-necked pheasants, 14; ruffed grouse, nine; sharp-tailed grouse, 11; common loon, one; horned grebe, one; red-necked grebe, six; turkey vultures, three; bald eagles, 53; rough-legged hawks, seven; ring-billed gull, one; herring gulls, 268; rock pigeons, 99; mourning doves, 79; belted kingfisher, two; red-bellied woodpeckers, 19; downy woodpeckers, 31; hairy woodpeckers, 38; pileated woodpeckers, 15; kestrel, one; northern shrike, three; blue jays, 285; American crows, 98; common ravens, 136; horned larks, 26; black-capped chickadees, 492; red-breasted nuthatch, 50; white-breasted nuthatch, 56; brown creeper, one; golden-crowned kinglets, seven; European starlings, 298; bohemian waxwing, 84; American tree sparrows, seven; dark-eyed junco, seven; northern cardinals, 31; rusty blackbirds, nine; common grackles, five; pine grosbeak, 91; purple finches, two; common redpolls, 145; pine siskin, 23; American goldfinch, 23; and house sparrows, 54.