2015 Christmas Bird Count and CBC4Kids

The 26th annual Vermilion Christmas Bird Count was held on December 19th. I’m the president for our local Naturalist Society this year, so I organized the count, made sure we had field counters for each of the quadrants, and also tried to publicize the count in the local papers to encourage more feeder counters and let the community know to expect birders walking around. We had a total of 29 field counters and nine feederwatchers.

My friend Sharon picked me up at 9 am and we drove around our part of the NW Quadrant, stopping at farmyards along the way, checking to see if there were any birds at feeders or in the mature spruce trees surrounding the yards. Black-capped Chickadees, Black-billed Magpies, and Common Ravens were our most seen species, but the Common Redpolls were the most abundant — we saw over 400 in just under two hours.

At 11:30 am we headed to my grandmother’s acreage to see what was at her feeders. We enjoyed mugs of hot chocolate and ate Christmas baking while looking out her kitchen windows. We added two Hairy Woodpeckers and Downy Woodpeckers to our list. Three Blue Jays fed from the peanut ring that my grandmother put out.

Downy Woodpecker,IMG_9990

One of the Blue Jays checking out the peanut feeder,IMG_9982 IMG_9983

A male Hairy Woodpecker,IMG_9988

A White-breasted Nuthatch also made a brief appearance,IMG_9997

This year, I organized the second annual Vermilion CBC4Kids in the Vermilion Provincial Park. Sharon dropped me off at home and I drove to town for the CBC4Kids starting at 1 pm. We had seven kids, six parents, and one novice adult birder come out for birding in the park. I talked about the possible species we could see and explained more about the Christmas Bird Count, then we started walking the trails.

A reporter from the one of the local newspapers joined us to cover the CBC4Kids just before we started our walk. Thanks for coming out, Shannon, and for the great article, which I hope encourages other families and young birders to come out. 

Two junior birders, photo courtesty of Shannon O’Connor, The Vermilion Voice.

Two junior birders (photo courtesty of Shannon O’Connor, The Vermilion Voice)

We looked for the large flocks of finches that had been previously reported in the spruce trees, but all we saw for winter finches were two Common Redpolls. Black-capped Chickadees were the most abundant on the walk and one particular bird came very close to the group, so everyone got a good look.

Other than birds, we found snowshoe hare tracks, various bird nests, a willow where a porcupine had stripped the bark off the top branches, and a bunch of trembling aspens that beavers chopped down in the summer or fall and left behind.

Searching for woodpeckers to no avail,IMG_1452

After a climb up a fairly steep hill, we caught our breath and got a group photo,IMG_1450

We finished the walk having traveled over two kilometres and seen six species. Even though the kids were a little tired after the long walk, they all had a good time. I’m looking forward to next year’s CBC4Kids, and think I might lead a walk for beginning adult birders who can’t commit to a whole/half day of counting, but would like to learn more about the wintering birds in Vermilion.

Here’s our list of species from the CBC4Kids walk:

Blue Jay — 1

Black-billed Magpie — 2

Common Raven — 2

Black-capped Chickadee — 38

Bohemian Waxwing  — 35

Common Redpoll — 2

There’s always a CBC potluck supper in town where everyone shares stories from the day, and our compiler tallies the count numbers. From the regular count and the CBC4Kids, counters saw a total of 4,340 individual birds of 41 species, a new record on both counts. Two of the species — a Cooper’s Hawk and a Northern Saw-Whet Owl — were new additions for the count and were both seen in the NE Quadrant.

Christmas Bird Counts around North America run up until January 5th — CBCs are excellent ways to meet other birders in your area as well as to add some new winter species to your list.

:: Find more CBC4Kids events here

:: Find CBC events across Canada here

:: Find CBC events across the U.S here

The Warbler Guide App, and a Giveaway

Warbler-tour-small

I’m very excited to be a part of The Warbler Guide App blog tour in partnership with Princeton University Press, to promote the new Warbler Guide app, which will be released soon. And please be sure to head over there to see the other blogs participating in the tour.

Some of the exciting features of the new app include 3D models of birds in all plumages; under-tail views; and the ability to find birds by filtering by colour, alphabetical order, song type, and taxonomic order.

Now for the giveaway!

Below are five photos of unidentified warblers, all taken by me at the Long Point Bird Observatory, Long Point, Ontario, in 2012 and 2013. The photos are labelled #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, and #7.

To enter the contest, just leave a comment in this post with your bird ID for each number. The person who correctly guesses the most species wins a copy of both The Warbler Guide book (print edition) and the new app as well!

Thanks to Jessica at Princeton University Press for providing me with the book and app.

The deadline to enter the contest is December 24th, and I’ll announce the winners on Christmas Day.

Good luck everyone!

#1:

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#2:

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#3:

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#4:

IMG_1648

#5:

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#6: 

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#7:

image1

New Bird Canada Blog Post

My monthly post is up at the Bird Canada blog, Interview with Young Albertan Birder Ethan. Come over and join us!

A Northern Hawk Owl from last month,

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New Bird Canada Blog Post

My monthly post is up at the Bird Canada blog, Interview with Young Manitoba Birder Josiah. Come over and join us!

A Mallard in Central Park last year in July,

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New Bird Canada Blog Post

My monthly post is up at the Bird Canada blog, about Holiday Gifts for Birders. Come over and join us!

The Warbler Guide is one of the gifts on my list,

TheWarblerGuide

Christmas Presents 2012

I received some wonderful presents this year, most of which were birding-related. My parents, especially my mother, bought most of the bird items!  She found most of them at EtsyAmazon.ca (since we’re in Canada), Chapters.ca, and The Book Depository (which my mother likes for the free shipping). Here’s a list:

:: My two favorite presents this year are an Owl tote bag (to me the owl looks like a Screech-Owl), and the Law’s Guide to Drawing Birds which I wrote about here. I’m very excited to start using the book it and will write a review soon. The bag is currently unavailable, but maybe it will be back in stock before too long,

Owltotebag

:: The latest issue, January 2013 of Birds and Blooms, from my father

:: A pair of handmade “Out on a Limb Bird Earrings” which I’ve been wearing ever since I opened my presents. They are silver-plate and made by Etsy seller billetsdoux in Thunder Bay, Ontario,

Birdearrings

:: A decal for my laptop of two birds on a branch, from Lewa’s Designs at Etsy,

ComputerDecal

:: The Birder’s Year 2013 calendar by David Sibley, and the 2013 Charley Harper calendar (which also has some wonderful non-bird illustrations),

:: Charley Harper note cards and envelopes featuring the Eastern Meadowlark,

:: A felt Snowy Owl brooch from lupin’s Etsy shop, for my winter jacket which is black,

SnowyOwlBrooch

:: A Red-headed Woodpecker ornament from Home Depot, to commemorate my seeing the very rare woodpecker in our area this Summer,

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I received the following books:

:: The Kirtland’s Warbler: The Story of a Bird’s Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It by William Rapai (review at 10000 Birds)

:: What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World by Jon Young; the book’s website is here

:: Rare Birds: The Extraordinary Tale of the Bermuda Petrel and the Man Who Brought It Back from Extinction by Elizabeth Gehrman Rare Birds (review here)

:: A Brand New Bird: How Two Amateur Scientists Created the First Genetically Engineered Animal by Tim Birkhead, about the red canary. It’s not “a brand new” or even recent book but my mother thought it would be interesting and also good for my biology studies.