Christmas Bird Count yields large number of starlings

By Doug Brown

Book7The Christmas Bird Count began as a protest by 27 conservationists against the traditional winter bird shoot by counting birds instead of hunting them. This is the 116th count beginning on Christmas Day 1900.

The local counters from the Stratford Field Naturalists were part of about 50,000 volunteers who took part in 1800 individual counts over a period of about two-and-a-half weeks around Christmas. This is the 32nd count for the local club. Counts took place in every Canadian province, 50 U.S. states, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies and some Pacific islands.

Our local statistics are sent to Bird Studies Canada. Eventually all statistics collected go to the Audubon Society. The count is an important tool in the monitoring of resident and migrating bird populations across the western hemisphere.

(The facts in the above history are from an article by Donal O’Connor in The Beacon Herald on January 2, 2001.)

On December 27th, the Brown family (Doug, Evelyn, David and Paul) participated by doing one of the 8 sectors contained in the Stratford area, covering 79 kilometers of road. Count numbers vary from year to year because of wind, weather, amount of open water, supply of berries and other food sources.

Please see the accompanying table for the totals for 2016 for sector 4 which follows the outskirts of St. Marys and extends to Lakeside to the south east and Avonbank to the northwest.

An estimate of 2,000 starlings were found on one barn roof at a large dairy farm near Wildwood. Our nine Canada geese were the only ones seen in the Stratford count area. The 42 robins were probably remnants of a group of 1,500 that were seen earlier in the week by one of the counters.   In years when Wildwood Lake is not frozen, we have had 3-400 Common Mergansers. This year, only three were observed.

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