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2003 Christmas Bird Count

The 2003 Hamilton Christmas Bird Count was very successful, with several records set. A grand total of 77,280 birds of 101 species were seen on Count Day, Dec. 26, 2003.

The total of 101 species identified on December 26 was the highest ever for count day (previous high was 100 in 1997). With eight other species seen Dec. 23-25 or 27-29 but not on Dec. 26, this year also saw the highest total of Count Day Identified plus Count Week Species at 109 (previous high was 103 in 2002 and 1997). Although weather conditions were very good, there is no doubt that the species records resulted from the work of the 111 participants, the highest number since the first Hamilton Christmas Bird Count in 1921. Illustrating the need to have as many participants as possible, 26 of the species seen on Count Day were found in only one area. Another 14 species were seen in only two areas.

Weather: 3AM-6AM – Cloudy, southwest winds 18 kmph gusting to 30, low temperature -2C. 6AM – dark – clear skies, winds west 28 kmph gusting to 40, high temperature +3C. SOME SNOW COVER. Land birds were hard to find in some areas. Hamilton Harbour and Burlington Bay were mainly ice free. Creeks were flowing freely but Cootes Paradise was almost completely iced over. Large numbers of lake ducks seen a week earlier and later were probably well offshore due to high winds.

Activity: 113 participants; 42 Field parties; 9 Owling parties; 16 Feederwatch reports. 191.5 hours walking (daytime); 57.3 hours driving (daytime); 16 hours owling; 65.75 hours feederwatching; 265.05 km walked daytime; 1176 km driven daytime; 207.3 km driven owling; 2.5 km walked owling.

New species for the count: Greater White-fronted Goose, Common Raven. Since 1954 a total of 176 species have been seen on Count Day. Some 32 species have been seen on the last 50 Hamilton CBCs (1954-2003); 7 additional species have been seen on 49 of those counts.

Totals for 69 species were higher than the 10-year average (1993-2002). Totals significantly higher (double or more) in 2003 than the average for the previous 10 years were: Pied-billed Grebe*, Red-necked Grebe*, Double-crested Cormorant*, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Trumpeter Swan*, Ruddy Duck*, Rough-legged Hawk, Wild Turkey, Red-bellied Woodpecker*, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-breasted Nuthatch*, Carolina Wren and Pine Siskin. Species marked with an * reached new highs for the last fifty years of the count (1954-2003), as did Red-throated Loon, Mute Swan, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Ring-billed Gull and White-breasted Nuthatch.

Species totals significantly lower (half or less) in 2003 than the average for the previous 10 years (1993-2002): Great Black-backed Gull, Blue Jay.

Other highlights: American Crow and Black-capped Chickadee totals were 30% and 20% respectively above their ten-year averages (1993-2002). A drop of almost 3000 in Canada Goose numbers over the 2002 number is unexplained.

Compiler: Mike Street

Species List: 2003 totals in brackets, new highs for the count in uppercase letters
•RED-THROATED LOON (2)
•Common Loon (1)
•PIED-BILLED GREBE (4)
•RED-NECKED GREBE (13)
•DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (46)
•Black-crowned Night-Heron (7)
•Great Blue Heron (8)
•Tundra Swan (1)
•TRUMPETER SWAN (66)
•MUTE SWAN (85)
•Greater White-fronted Goose (CW)
•Canada Goose (7346)
•Wood Duck (CW)
•Mallard (6674)
•American Black Duck (636)
•Gadwall (90)
•Green-winged Teal (32)
•Northern Pintail (41)
•Northern Shoveler (52)
•Canvasback (195)
•Redhead (8)
•Ring-necked Duck (39)
•Greater Scaup (11401)
•Lesser Scaup (1758)
•King Eider (1)
•Black Scoter (3)
•White-winged Scoter (26)
•Surf Scoter (5)
•Long-tailed Duck (8812)
•Common Goldeneye (1775)
•Bufflehead (670)
•Common Merganser (967)
•Red-breasted Merganser (70)
•Hooded Merganser (56)
•RUDDY DUCK (391)
•”Duck” species (32)
•Northern Harrier (1)
•Bald Eagle (2)
•SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (21)
•Cooper’s Hawk (13)
•”Accipiter” species (9)
•Red-tailed Hawk (160)
•Rough-legged Hawk (6)
•American Kestrel (24)
•Merlin (1)
•Peregrine Falcon (2)
•Gray Partridge (1)
•Wild Turkey (6)
•American Coot (107)
•Killdeer (CW)
•RING-BILLED GULL (3467)
•Herring Gull (2076)
•Glaucous Gull (3)
•Iceland Gull (1)
•Great Black-backed Gull (68)
•”Gull” species (213)
•Rock Pigeon (1440)
•Mourning Dove (692)
•Long-eared Owl (1)
•Great Horned Owl (5)
•Eastern Screech Owl (13)
•Belted Kingfisher (6)
•Red-headed Woodpecker (CW)
•RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER (15)
•Northern Flicker (12)
•Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2)
•Downy Woodpecker (180)
•Hairy Woodpecker (54)
•Pileated Woodpecker (6)
•”Woodpecker” species (2)
•Northern Shrike (2)
•Blue Jay (148)
•American Crow (3214)
•Common Raven (2)
•Horned Lark (9)
•Tufted Titmouse (1)
•Black-capped Chickadee (1537)
•Brown Creeper (13)
•WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (207)
•RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (81)
•Winter Wren (10)
•Carolina Wren (18)
•Marsh Wren (CW)
•Golden-crowned Kinglet (33)
•Eastern Bluebird (13)
•Hermit Thrush (1)
•”Thrush” species (1)
•American Robin (343)
•Gray Catbird (1)
•Northern Mockingbird (32)
•Brown Thrasher (1)
•European Starling (14855)
•Cedar Waxwing (473)
•Yellow-rumped Warbler (1)
•Pine Warbler (CW)
•Eastern Towhee (CW)
•American Tree Sparrow (296)
•Chipping Sparrow (2)
•Fox Sparrow (1)
•Song Sparrow (23)
•Swamp Sparrow (9)
•White-throated Sparrow (115)
•White-crowned Sparrow (1)
•Dark-eyed Junco (1397)
•Snow Bunting (155)
•Northern Cardinal (425)
•Red-winged Blackbird (CW)
•Brown-headed Cowbird (8)
•Purple Finch (12)
•House Finch (478)
•Pine Siskin (119)
•American Goldfinch (651)
•Common Redpoll (63)
•”Finch” species (10)
•House Sparrow (2597)