2007 Fall Bird Count

This will be the first year that we can start to “officially” count Trumpeter Swans in the fall count total. The organizers of the Trumpeter Swan reintroduction program have recently submitted a report to CWS and MNR indicating that the goals of their program have been met and that the southern Ontario sub-population (which is part of a larger Great Lakes population) are now self-sustaining and increasing without further releases. A further report on the entire population has been submitted to the USFWS with the same conclusions. The Ontario Bird Records Committee recently voted to include Trumpeter Swan as a breeding species on the Ontario checklist. While the OBRC is not the body to be concerned about the “countability” of recent reintroduced species on local checklists, this action by OBRC would seem to clear the way for local bird records committees/checklist compilers to do so. So there is really no point in not officially including it on the count at this point.

Lastly I have to discuss the count effort this year. We had a record-high number of observers in 2007 at 133. The previous high was 124 in 2005. Similarly, the 66 parties bested the previous high of 56 in 2006 by a wide margin and a record number of party hours at 425.6 was well above the previous high of 379.7 also in 2006. Thus we had a substantial increase in effort this year and no doubt this is the explanation for record-high counts of species such as Black-capped Chickadee, Northern Cardinal and American Goldfinch and possibly Hairy Woodpecker. For other species with record-high totals this year the reasons are not as clear. For instance the 417 White-breasted Nuthatchs counted in 2007 was 34% higher than any previous count. No doubt the count effort contributed to these numbers but surely other factors were involved, including perhaps a movement of this species from the north into the HSA.

Correction to 2006 Count: The totals published in the 2006 fall count summary reversed the totals for Rock Pigeon and Mourning Dove. The correct total for Mourning Dove in 2006 was 3,106, a record count, besting the previous high in 2003 of 2,843. The correct total for Rock Pigeon in 2006 was 2,662, a record count, surpassing the previous high of 2,572 in 1991.

Area Covered: Selected areas within a 40.2km radius of Dundurn Castle, Hamilton, Ontario (Hamilton Study Area-HSA) including: the Lake Ontario shoreline from Port Credit to Beamsville; the Conservation Areas of Berry, Binbrook, Burns, Christie, Felker’s Falls, Fifty Point, Mountsberg, Valens, Dundas Valley, and Spencer Gorge; Islay, Puslinch, Mohawk and Dunmark Lakes; Scotch Block Reservoir; Bronte Creek P.P.; Cootes Paradise; Woodland & Holy Sepulcher Cemeteries; Kings Forest; Esquesing and Frank Tracts; Bronte, Rattray, Middletown and Van Wagners Marshes; Vanderliek Farm Pond;….