Christmas Bird Count turns up a few that refuse to migrate

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The Christmas Bird Count is an annual citizen science project completed all over North America on one day between December 14 and January 5. Groups from over 2,000 localities traverse their given zone with binoculars and clipboard in hand looking and listening for any birds they may come across. The numbers collected go back to Bird Studies Canada and Audubon to assess population trends and distribution of birds in North America.
Here in Slave Lake, the Christmas Bird Count took place on Saturday, December 16 and we had a great turnout of 32 volunteers. We found a total of 1,419 individuals of 24 different species.
Of these species, we found several birds classified as “difficult” for this time of year, including one bald eagle, three white-winged crossbills, one three-toed woodpecker, 40 European starlings, and two American crows! On top of that we also counted two Tundra Swans, two Canada geese, and one sharp-tailed grouse, which are all considered ‘rare!’
The highest counts we observed were 650 common ravens, 243 Bohemian waxwings, 158 black-capped chickadees, 85 black-billed magpies, and 53 pine grosbeaks.
When compared with previous years, the total numbers of individuals and species were very similar; however each year presents differences in the amount of birds we see of a particular species.
For instance, last year we saw significantly fewer Bohemian waxwings, only 10, than we counted this year, 243; however, this was still lower than what we counted in 2015, 405 individuals.
Thanks again to all those that joined us for this year’s Christmas Bird Count!


2017 Christmas Bird Count
Common Raven 650
Bohemian Waxwing 243
Black-capped Chickadee 158
Black-billed Magpie 85
Pine Grosbeak 53
House Sparrow 44
European Starling 40
Snow Bunting 36
Blue Jay 26
Common Redpoll 25
Gray Jay 15
Ruffed grouse 8
Hairy Woodpecker 7
Red-breasted Nuthatch 7
Evening Grosbeak 7
White-winged Crossbill 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
American Crow 2
Tundra Swan 2
Canada Goose 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Three-toed Woodpecker 1
Bald Eagle 1
Sharp-tailed Grouse 1
Total Birds 1419
Total Species 24

Just one sharp-tailed grouse was seen during the Christmas Bird Count, and this is it, photgraphed by Rodney King.

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