Snowy owls plentiful this year

Christmas bird count results

The 30th annual Kincardine Christmas Bird Count found 52 species in the area and a total count of 8,732 birds.

Snowy owls have shown up in the Great Lakes basin this season and eight were found in this area the day of count, Thursday, Dec. 19. That’s only one fewer than the record high count of nine.

A good place to look for Snowy Owls is on thee hydro poles and fence posts on the 10th of Huron.

There was a foot of snow on the ground the 19th, making it hard for birds to find food. Water birds were huddled in the few spots where there was unfrozen water. Pack ice was solid on the lake shore which made it difficult to identify birds on the distant open water, even with high powered scopes.

The calm morning provided perfect conditions for owling and Screech and Great-horned Owls responded readily to recorded calls.

A Carolina Wren was a nice surprise found at a backyard feeder. The wren is more at home in the southern part of the province.

One of the rarities spotted this year was the Lapland Longspur, named for its extra-long back claw which helps the bird walk on the soft tundra vegetation. Depending on the severity of the winter, the birds will spend the winter in Bruce County, sometimes mixing in with flocks of Snow Buntings. Snow Buntings often gather in large flocks and frequent the road sides and open fields. It was the most populous bird this year (2,414).

The Black Scoter found in the Point Clark area is a coastal duck that breeds in the subarctic. Small numbers migrate through this area and some winter here if conditions are good.

Some of the species found are as follows: Canada Goose, 28; American Black Duck, 9; Mallard, 110, Greater Scaup, 1; Black Scoter, 2; Bufflehead, 158; Common Goldeneye, 120; Common Merganser, 62; Red-breasted Merganser, 9; Wild Turkey, 82; Bald Eagle, 6; Northern Harrier, 1;  Sharp-shinned Hawk, 5; Cooper’s  Hawk, 1; Red-tailed Hawk, 14; Blue Jay, 138; American Crow,367; Common Raven, 4; American Robin, 12; European Starling, 2,148; Rock Pigeon, 393, Mourning Dove, 194.

There were also a number of song birds, owls and gulls counted.

Centre for the count was just west of Ripley. The circle reached south of Highway 86 and in the north the circle went north of North Line. It included the lakeshore on the west and reached Bruce County Road 1 in the east.

Data is also collected three days preceding and after count day. During this period four additional species were seen. If you live within the count circle and are interested in having the birds at your feeder counted, contact James Turland at