2008 Fall Bird Count

biologists. In regards to the Ruddy Duck, it has had a steady climb in numbers on the HFBC since the early 1990s. Pileated Woodpecker numbers have more or less doubled on the count since the mid 90s. This could indicate an actual increase or it could be a function of increased party hours. This could also be the case with the Sharp-shinned Hawk although local hawk counts have also noted an increase in this species. Passerines in record numbers included Red-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren and Pine Siskin. Red-breasted Nuthatch record totals are probably just due to chance. Surprisingly to me was the fact that I could not find a Red-breasted Nuthatch this year despite visiting suitable habitats were they usually are. Go figure! For the Carolina Wren, it seems hard for most birders to imagine that this species was only sporadically reported on the HFBC in the late 70s and early 80s. It has been a long time since this species was very uncommon in the HSA. Lastly, the Pine Siskin had a real banner year on the fall count. This species, being a finch, always undergoes startling fluctuations in abundance. For example, it has been missed on 20% of counts and less than 10 individuals have been recorded on four other counts. However, the previous record of 560 in 1980 was shattered by the 1,505 tallied this year. Almost all parties reported Pine Siskin in 2008.

There are always misses on counts and this year was no exception. Species that were missed this year that are usually recorded included Blue-winged Teal, Northern Goshawk, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee and Eastern Meadowlark. Species missed that are seen around 50% of the time included Sanderling, White-rumped Sandpiper, Long-eared Owl, Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Eastern Phoebe and Brown Thrasher. Surprisingly, despite the brisk east winds, no ?pelagic? species such as gannets, phalaropes, jaegers or kittiwakes were observed on Lake Ontario.

Once again this year there was an outstanding count-period bird observed. A Manx Shearwater was observed at Van Wagners Beach on Saturday November 1 by Dan Salisbury. Unfortunately this bird was not seen on count day as it would have been the best bird ever seen on any HFBC. We have had two other count-period birds of this nature before, these being the Eastern Kingbird (extreme date rarity) in 2006 and the American Oystercatcher in 1985.

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; Cootes Paradise; Woodland & Holy Sepulcher Cemeteries; Kings Forest; Esquesing and Frank Tracts; Bronte, Rattray, Middletown and Van Wagners Marshes; Vanderliek Farm Pond; ….