Hamilton Fall Bird Count 2007
by Bill Lamond
The 34th annual Hamilton Fall Bird Count (HFBC) was conducted on 4 November 2007. Temperatures were seasonal and winds were light to moderate, and with a variably cloudy sky, conditions were excellent for bird finding. Thus we ended up with a total of 137 species in 2007 which is about eight species above the all-time average of 129.3 although only about three species above the “last 15 year” average of 134.6.
There were nine “significant species” observed this year (recorded on 20% or fewer counts). The undisputed highlight of the count was the Swainson’s Hawk seen by Barb Charlton near Peters Corners. This Ontario rarity is a first count record and the latest Hamilton record ever. The other significant species were Cackling Goose (2), Cattle Egret (2), & Eared Grebe (2nd count records); King Eider, Great Egret & Common Raven (4) (4th count records); Sandhill Crane (6th count record); and Bohemian Waxwing (6) (7th count record and first record in 10 years). Common Raven was seen by 3 separate parties and this species will likely become annual on fall counts. Similarly, Sandhill Crane is on the increase and this species will likely fall off the significant list, although surprisingly it is the first record of this species since 1999. Notable species usually seen on about 1/3 of counts and tallied in 2007 include Harlequin Duck, Osprey, Golden Eagle, Lesser Black-backed Gull, House Wren, Marsh Wren and Common Redpoll. Other notables usually seen on about ½ of counts and observed this year include Brant, Northern Saw-whet Owl (2), Eastern Phoebe (3), Tufted Titmouse (5), and Nashville Warbler. In 2007 there were five species that were recorded as count-period birds only. Count-period birds are seen in the Hamilton Study Area (HSA) either the day before or the day after the count but not on count day. The count-period birds this year were high quality. One species would have been new for the count (Ross’s Goose) and two species would have been second count records (Barrow’s Goldeneye and Barred Owl).
Several species were seen in unusually high numbers this year. In fact 22 species had record-high counts this year. This was most notable in woodpeckers. Three species were record-high and additionally Downy Woodpecker was very close to being record-high. Red-bellied Woodpecker numbers were simply incredible. Numbers in 2007 were 120, 42% higher than the record-high count in 2006. This species is now more common locally than Hairy Woodpecker. However, its distribution in the HSA is uneven. It is most common in the SE quadrant of the circle and least common in the NE quadrant. Now some may wonder if this rapid increase is at the expense of another woodpecker species. Red-headed Woodpecker comes to mind as Red-headed Woodpecker has all but vanished from the HSA….