Gore Bay Christmas bird count reports lower numbers

This beautiful blue jay was one of 2,053 individual birds spotted during the 52nd annual Gore Bay Christmas Bird Count.

Terry Land, Gore Bay bird count compiler

GORE BAY – The 52nd annual Gore Bay Christmas Bird Count sponsored by the Manitoulin Nature Club was held on Sunday, December 15, 2019. A total of 2,053 individual birds of 36 species were observed, which is one of the lowest totals in the history of the count.

Conditions for the day were ideal with comfortable temperatures, some open water and a full complement of 15 observers in six teams in the field. Some 31 feeder watchers also took part, counting 922 of the individual birds sighted.

During the three days leading up to the count and the subsequent three days after (known as the count week) three species not seen on the actual day of the count were observed: canvasback duck, long-tailed duck and northern shrike. I believe this is only the second time in the 52 years of the count that a northern shrike was not reported on count day.

Despite the open water of the North Channel and at Lake Wolsey many of the ducks we would have hoped to have seen were absent. The most conspicuous birds to the feeder watchers were blue jays and black-capped chickadees. Four species of woodpeckers were well represented with 100 individuals seen.

One snowy owl was seen near Lake Wolsey. This species is not regularly seen and was a nice addition to the list. 

I believe for the first time in the history of the Gore Bay Bird Count that all of the field observers were residents of Manitoulin. For the beginning of the count many if not most of the observers came from Sudbury. We are indebted to their efforts in keeping the count going and I hope we now have a core group of locals to carry on.

Watch for more activities from the Manitoulin Nature Club and find out what you can do to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count event held in February.

The following is a list of the birds counted: Canada goose, 8; mallard, 78; common goldeneye, 114; common merganser, 97; ring-necked pheasant, 31; ruffed grouse, six; sharp-tailed grouse, two; rock pigeon, 48; mourning dove, 88; herring gull, 12; bald eagle, 24; rough-legged hawk, two; snowy owl, one; red-bellied woodpecker, seven; downy woodpecker, 33; hairy woodpecker, 51; pileated woodpecker, nine; blue jay, 418; American crow, 93; common raven, 124; horned lark, 28; black-capped chickadee, 255; red-breasted nuthatch, 21; white-breasted nuthatch, 26; golden-crowned kinglet, one; European starling, 190; Bohemian waxwing, five; house sparrow, 82; purple finch, seven; American goldfinch, 63; Lapland longspur, one; snow bunting, 85; American tree sparrow, 10; dark-eyed junco, 21; red-winged blackbird, one; northern cardinal, 11.