The 2004 Hamilton Christmas Bird Count was again very successful, with a new overall count day record set. A grand total of 59,486 birds of 102 species were seen on Dec. 26, 2004, the highest ever species total for Count Day, beating the previous record of 101 attained in 2003.
Four other species were seen Dec. 23-25 or 27-29 but not on Dec. 26, bringing the 2004 Count Day plus Count Week total to 106, less than the 109 total in 2003 but above the previous high of 103 in 2002 and 1997. With heavy snow and freezing rain several days before the count, there is no doubt that the species record resulted from the hard work of the 103 participants. Further illustrating the need to have as many participants as possible, 25 of the species seen on Count Day were found in only one area, while another 16 species were seen in only two areas.
Weather: 3AM-6AM – Overcast, southwest winds 15 kmph, low temperature -12C. 6AM – noon – clear skies, winds west 15 kmph. Noon-3PM – winds north 20kmph, gusting to 40kmph, hard driving snow in most areas. High temperature for the day was -7C. At least six to eight inches of snow on the ground throughout the region, most of it very hard due to rain a few days before the count, led to a significant drop in CBC counter walking hours for the 2004 count. Land birds were hard to find in some areas. Valley Inn and the water to Carroll’s Point were frozen but Hamilton Harbour and Burlington Bay were mainly ice free. Creeks were flowing freely but Cootes Paradise was completely iced over. Large numbers of lake ducks seen a week earlier and later were probably well offshore due to the winds.
Activity: 103 participants; 44 Field parties; 9 Owling parties; 13 Feederwatch reports. 134.5 hours walking (daytime); 69.2 hours driving (daytime); 13.25 hours owling; 58.5 hours feederwatching; 185.5 km walked daytime; 1211 km driven daytime; 202.2 km driven owling; 2 km walked owling.
New species for the count: none
Totals for 66 species were higher than the 10-year average (1994-2003). Totals significantly higher (double or more) in 2004 than the average for the previous 10 years were: Double-crested Cormorant*, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Trumpeter Swan*, Canada Goose, Snow Goose, White-winged Scoter*, Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle*, Rough-legged Hawk, Peregrine Falcon*; Wild Turkey*, Iceland Gull*; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Common Raven*, Carolina Wren, Field Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow* and Pine Grosbeak. Species marked with an * reached new highs for the last fifty years of the count (1954-2003), as did Hooded Merganser and Eastern Screech Owl.
Species with totals significantly lower (half or less) in 2004 than the average for the previous 10 years (1994-2004) were: American Kestrel, Northern Flicker, American Robin, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Brown-headed Cowbird and Common Redpoll.
Other highlights: Blue Jay and Black-capped Chickadee totals were close to their ten-year averages (1994-2003). Canada Goose numbers recovered over the 2003 total. The continuing drop in numbers of European Starlings is partly explained by a pair of Peregrine Falcons having taken up residence in one of their regular roosting areas.
Long-time Hamilton birders have noted that in the 1950-60 period American Crows were not at all common in the Hamilton area during winter. The recent drops in crow numbers may be explained by the significant replacement of corn by soy beans by farmers in the Hamilton region, and also by the much lower number of open garbage dumps.
Species List: 2004 totals in brackets, new highs for the count in uppercase letters
Common Loon (1), Horned Grebe (CW), Red-necked Grebe (5), DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (74), Black-crowned Night-Heron (5), Great Blue Heron (6), Tundra Swan (3), TRUMPETER SWAN (106), Mute Swan (73), Snow Goose (2), Canada Goose (10119), Mallard (4608), American Black Duck (242), ‘Mallard x American Black Duck’ (2), Gadwall (7), Green-winged Teal (25), Northern Pintail (2), Northern Shoveler (5), Canvasback (150), Redhead (37), Ring-necked Duck (53), Greater Scaup (10861), Lesser Scaup (533), ‘Scaup’ species (750), King Eider (1), Black Scoter (4), WHITE-WINGED SCOTER (1077), Surf Scoter (45), Long-tailed Duck (850), Common Goldeneye (3261), Bufflehead (406), Common Merganser (1197), Red-breasted Merganser (102), HOODED MERGANSER (67), Ruddy Duck (224), ‘Duck’ species (12), Northern Harrier (5), BALD EAGLE (5), Sharp-shinned Hawk (12), Cooper’s Hawk (9), Northern Goshawk (1), ‘Accipiter’ species (3), Red-tailed Hawk (110), Rough-legged Hawk (8), American Kestrel (7), Merlin (CW), PEREGRINE FALCON (4), Ring-necked Pheasant (2), WILD TURKEY (20), American Coot (68), ‘Jaeger species’ (CW), Ring-billed Gull (1258), Herring Gull (1631), Glaucous Gull (18), ICELAND GULL (7), Lesser Black-back.Gull (1), Great Black-backed Gull (143), ‘Gull’ species (10), Rock Pigeon (1488), Mourning Dove (708), Long-eared Owl (5), Great Horned Owl (7), EASTERN SCREECH OWL (32), Belted Kingfisher (5), Red-bellied Woodpecker (12), Northern Flicker (3), Downy Woodpecker (175), Hairy Woodpecker (57), Pileated Woodpecker (4), ‘Woodpecker’ species (1), Northern Shrike (3), Blue Jay (288), American Crow (1856), COMMON RAVEN (3), Horned Lark (CW), Tufted Titmouse (1), Black-capped Chickadee (1348), Brown Creeper (27), White-breasted Nuthatch (160), Red-breasted Nuthatch (36), Winter Wren (16), Carolina Wren (14), Golden-crowned Kinglet (54), Eastern Bluebird (13), Hermit Thrush (2), American Robin (140), Gray Catbird (1), Northern Mockingbird (13), European Starling (8525), American Pipit (1), Cedar Waxwing (127), Pine Warbler (1), American Tree Sparrow (468), Field Sparrow (4), Fox Sparrow (1), Song Sparrow (35), Vesper Sparrow (CW), Swamp Sparrow (5), White-throated Sparrow (39), WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (52), Dark-eyed Junco (1253), Snow Bunting (152), Northern Cardinal (551), Red-winged Blackbird (11), Common Grackle (2), Brown-headed Cowbird (13), Purple Finch (4), House Finch (388), Pine Siskin (30), American Goldfinch (681), Common Redpoll (1), ‘Finch’ species (2), Evening Grosbeak (1), House Sparrow (2430).
Participants: Soren Anderson, Richard Andrews, Barrie Boatman, Laurel Boatman, Mary Booker, Peter Booker, Mike Boyd, Carla Brechin, Hazel Broker, Fran Bullock, Wayne Bullock, Evelyn Butwick, Joan Campbell, Michael Clark, Jim Coey, Mark Cranford, Tim Cranford, Bill Crins, Floyd Deiter, Edward Dinniwell, Rob Dobos, Dave Don, Bryan Drown, Judy Duggan, Ernie Dunston, Barney Dutka, Helene Dutka, Cheryl Edgecombe, Kathy Evans, Russ Evans, Lois Evans, Janet Fuller, Hugh Fuller., Joseph Gabriel, Audrey Gamble, Don Gleig, Matthew Graham, Mike Grey, Doug Hanna, Jack Hanna, Barbara Harker, Ron Harker, Kyna Intini, Mark Jennings, Jean Johnson, Ian Jolliffe, Graham Jones, Shirley Klement, Vicky Koch, Manfred Kolster, Ursula Kolster, Bill Lamond, Deborah Lindeman, Rick Ludkin, Bruce Mackenzie, Stuart Mackenzie, Jeff MacLeod, Ann Manson, Brian McCudden, Vicki McCudden, Grant McGovern, Jackie McInnis, Kevin McLaughlin, Gord McNulty, John Merriman, John Miles, John Millman, Matt Mills, Brian Mishell, Dolores Mishell, George Naylor, Audrey Nowicki, John Olmsted, Daphne Payne, Rose Petersen, Dave Pottinger, Marilyn Pottinger, Dennis Price, Bill Read, David Restivo, Renate Ruland, Alfred Senior, Elaine Serena, Chris Slote, Bill Smith, Ian Smith, Paul Smith, Bob Stamp, Mike Street, Ruth Summers, Neil Taylor, Tom Thomas, Margaret Troy, Louise Unitt, Rob Waldhuber, Rick Welton, Angie Williams, Ken Williams, David Wood, Elinor Wood, Ross Wood, Alan Wormington, Brian Wylie.
Special thanks to the Hamilton Conservation Authority and the Sisters of Service for assistance in accessing properties. Please be sure to let me know if anyone’s name has been accidentally left off this list.
Compiler: Mike Street