Calgary Christmas Bird Count Results

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 60th Calgary Christmas Bird count on December 18, 2011. A record number of 239 birders took part in this year’s count, with 117 feeder-watchers and 122 observers in the field.

Conditions on count-day were excellent. Light overnight snow stopped just at the start of the count and it was generally cloudy throughout the day. The temperature remained in a narrow range between minus 3 deg and zero deg. Snow cover was around 10 – 15 cm. Glenmore Reservoir was fully frozen and the Bow and Elbow Rivers were partly frozen. Birders in the field put in a total of 238 party-hours, 68 percent on foot, covering 229 km on foot and 1021 km by car.

Some Count Highlights

69 species were recorded, tied for third highest-ever; we have averaged 65 species for the past 20 years. Two additional species have been recorded in count-week (December 15-21) so far, Long-tailed Duck and American Dipper

66,529 individual birds were counted, our highest-ever. Bohemian Waxwings were the most numerous, with almost 20 000 counted, and over 1000 individuals were counted for another ten species, four of them finch species.

We had a new bird for the count, our first since 2005. This was an American Pipit found on the Bow River. The bird had first been sighted there on December 3. Other rarities were a Pied-billed Grebe found at the outlet of the Elbow River (4th count record) and a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (2nd count-record). Excellent photographs were taken of these rarities which will greatly aid the documentation process.

Other unusual species (recorded in two or less years in the prior ten): Canvasback (1), Northern Harrier (1), Hoary Redpoll (21) and Evening Grosbeak (2).

Record numbers for Cooper’s Hawk (6), Rough-legged Hawk (17), Northern Flicker (142), Pine Grosbeak (852) and White-winged Crossbill (1129).

High Counts (more than three-times the prior ten-year average) for two regularly recorded species: Prairie Falcon (3) and Common Redpoll (1543).

Low counts (less than one-third the prior ten-year average) for one regularly recorded species: American Wigeon (2).

Five “missing” species (seen on count-day in seven or more years in the prior ten, but missed this year): Green-winged Teal, Redhead, Harlequin Duck, Mountain Chickadee and American Dipper.

I will be presenting the results at the Bird Study Group meeting on Wednesday January 4, 2012 at 7:30 PM in Room 211 of the Biosciences Building, University of Calgary, as part of the traditional Calgary region CBC review evening. Please let me know if you notice any omissions or errors in this provisional compilation. Final results will be posted on the Audubon database as soon as it is re-functioning.

MOST IMPORTANT — please inform me of any count-week sightings of any species not on the list below.

List of species recorded on count-day

Cackling Goose, 2; Canada Goose, 8191; Wood Duck, 7; American Wigeon, 2; Mallard, 14623; Northern Pintail 1; Canvasback, 1; Lesser Scaup, 1; Bufflehead, 178; Common Goldeneye, 2993; Barrow’s Goldeneye, 20; Hooded Merganser, 5; Common Merganser, 60; Gray Partridge, 125; Ring-necked Pheasant, 24; Ruffed Grouse, 3; Pied-billed Grebe, 1; Bald Eagle, 19; Northern Harrier, 1; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 8; Cooper’s Hawk, 6; Northern Goshawk, 6, Red-tailed Hawk, 1; Rough-legged Hawk, 17; Merlin, 19; Gyrfalcon, 2; Prairie Falcon, 3; Killdeer, 5; Gull sp., 1; Rock Pigeon, 3221; Great Horned Owl, 5; Belted Kingfisher, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 131; Hairy Woodpecker, 24; Northern Flicker, 142; Pileated Woodpecker, 1; Northern Shrike, 2; Blue Jay, 102; Black-billed Magpie, 2366; American Crow 51; Common Raven, 192; Black-capped Chickadee, 1360; Boreal Chickadee, 10; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 344; White-breasted Nuthatch, 55; Brown Creeper, 12; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 18; Townsend’s Solitaire, 8; American Robin, 63; European Starling, 515; American Pipit, 1; Bohemian Waxwing, 19593; Cedar Waxwing, 10; American Tree Sparrow, 6; Harris’s Sparrow, 2; Dark-eyed Junco, 213; Snow Bunting, 3; Rusty Blackbird, 1; Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, 1; Pine Grosbeak, 852; Purple Finch, 1; House Finch, 1280; Red Crossbill, 139; White-winged Crossbill, 1129; Common Redpoll, 1543; Hoary Redpoll, 21; Pine Siskin, 571; Evening Grosbeak, 2 and House Sparrow, 6214

Total species, 69. Total individuals, 66 529.

Phil Cram


2 thoughts on “Calgary Christmas Bird Count Results

  1. A colleague of mine on Springbank Hill reported a Northern Shrike in a tree near his bird feeder on Sunday morning. I see there were (15 Jan’12) 2 NOSH observed during Calgary CBC, so it seems to be a relatively novel sighting (at least not common). Are they seen more often in the Calgary Countryside?

    • They probably are seen more frequently outside the city but aren’t very numerous. They are solitary and widely scattered, but can be found in southern Alberta in the winter months. A few are reported in the city every year.

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