The National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count may be a 116 year old tradition but the results can vary dramatically from year to year. Ironically, after the start of an unusually mild winter, the 2015 Christmas Bird Count, held on December 19 in the twin Saults, took place on one of the coldest days of the 2015-16 winter season.
“Many birds opted to take cover from the cold and wind but we still saw an increase in the number of bird sightings and that was likely due to the mild weather leading up to the event,” said Don Hall, Data Analyst for the Christmas Bird Count and member of the Sault Naturalists of Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario and Michigan).
The December 2015 count saw a total of 7,451 individual birds observed representing 62 species. In comparison, there were 6,654 birds and 59 species in 2014. Notable sightings included a Belted Kingfisher which was likely still in the area due to the mild winter and a Harris’s Sparrow, rarely found in Algoma at any season. There were also sightings of White-throated Sparrows, another bird seldom-seen, locally, in winter.
All data collected by the 68 volunteers, who recorded the observations, is entered by Hall into a central database managed by the Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada. Dave Euler organizes the annual count which encompasses a 12 km radius, in Ontario and Michigan, from the center of the International Bridge.
The National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count was first held in 1900 and has been an annual event in the Sault Ste. Marie area for 59 years. Further information on the Sault Naturalists of Ontario and Michigan, and its upcoming Annual Dinner and General Meeting, can be found at www.soonats.pbworks.com.