During the last couple of weeks Nakusp and New Denver conducted their annual Christmas Bird Counts — New Denver on Dec. 30, and Nakusp on Jan. 2. Each of the counts saw very low numbers, both of species and individual birds.
Nakusp’s 40-year average is 41 species and 1450 individual birds. This year we counted only 34 species and 814 individuals. New Denver has a shorter history; their six-year average is 33 species and 671 individuals. This year they had just 26 species and 516 individuals.
No particularly rare or unusual species were reported on either count. Perhaps the most significant feature of the counts were the large numbers of Varied Thrushes, 142 in Nakusp and 38 in New Denver. Only once before has Nakusp seen Varied Thrushes in such numbers — in 2010 we counted 159, but the 40-year average is just nine. Several species were conspicuous by their very low numbers or by their total absence. Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls, Red Crossbills, Pine Grosbeaks and Evening Grosbeaks are almost totally absent this winter — a phenomenon noted throughout southern interior B.C. this year.
Following is a complete list of species seen on each count, the first number is the Nakusp result, followed by New Denver.
Canada Goose (0,30), Mallard (40,3), Bufflehead (0,5), Common Goldeneye (4,0), Barrow’s Goldeneye (15,0), Ruffed Grouse (3,0), Horned Grebe (3,0), Eurasian Collared Dove (45,0), Wilson’s Snipe (3,0), Herring Gull (2,0), Bald Eagle (4,4), Red-tailed Hawk (1,0), Northern Pygmy-Owl (2,3), Downy Woodpecker (3,2), Hairy Woodpecker (2,0), Northern Flicker (35,29), Pileated Woodpecker (4,1), Steller’s Jay (53,47), American Crow (23,36), Common Raven (159,13), Black-capped Chickadee (71,40), Mountain Chickadee (0,3), Chestnut-backed Chickadee (2,14), Red-breasted Nuthatch (29,11), Brown Creeper (1,2), Pacific Wren (1,2), American Dipper (2,10), Golden-crowned Kinglet (17,22), American Robin (2,9), Varied Thrush (142, 38), European Starling (10,0), Bohemian Waxwing (30,30), House Finch (7,0), Pine Siskin (0,135), American Goldfinch (47,2), Song Sparrow (23,15), Dark-eyed Junco (12,10), Red-winged Blackbird (17,0)
A few other species were observed either just before or just after count day, (but not on count day), Great Blue Heron, Merlin, Northern Shrike, Evening Grosbeak, and Pine Grosbeak.