Only 19 species of birds were observed this winter on Dec. 30, which is considered below average.
“There’s no open water and other factors. Normally, what happens is there are no impediments, often its been really cold out but usually, there isn’t the new snow which makes stopping by roadsides really hazardous because snow ploughs haven’t cleared everything as much as you hoped,” said Tom Godin. “I’d say weather played a big role in making it a little bit less than a normal return on our searching. “
The most prominent bird was the pine grosbeak, a member of the true finch family.
“They’re all on the main streets of town there and they’re enjoying eating the ash trees that lay on Birch Avenue in town. I didn’t know they ate those things but they’re just enjoying them,” said Godin. “There are hundreds of them around.”
Godin said people often have to go out of their way to find them.
The most surprising was the house finch, which often doesn’t get on the list.
According to Godin, they usually become vagrant during winter and are often unseen during winter. Godin was in the back alleys and saw the lone house finch with a group of red poles. Also seen was a red-tailed hawk during count week but not count day.
The dead trees due to the fire haven’t played any part in the bird count yet, but Godin expects it will in the future. Especially for the woodpecker population.
“That will take a few years to tick in because there will be a bigger survival rate of woodpeckers as they feed on those dead trees and whatever else they find,” he said.
The information collected goes into a North American database allowing for a picture of how different species of birds fare during the winter, population trends and other trends over a 10 to 20 year period.
Godin is thinking of carrying out the bird count before Christmas and the dead-set of winter making it easier to spot more species before the birds either head south or hide deeper in the bush.