Recent Media Coverage

Record number of Red-breasted Nuthatches in Tobermory CBC

By Zoe Kessler,
Wiarton Echo,
December 28 2017

[IMAGE]Sandra Paccanaro, Tyler Miller, Dan Simard, Michael Butler and Darci Lombard counted birds at Emmett Lake, Bruce Peninsula National Park, for the Tobermory Christmas Bird Count, Dec. 20. Photo by Martha Allen

TOBERMORY - Forty people participated in this year’s Christmas Bird Count in the Tobermory, Dec. 20.

The day was a mix of sun and cloud with temperatures of minus 5.3 Celsius to minus 0.3 Celsius for the area’s 45th CBC.

“Birds were scarce this year – well below average – in diversity and abundance,” Michael Butler, participant, said in an email, Dec. 21. “The totals were marginally better than last year for which the number of species (36) and total individuals (1,028) were the lowest since 1985,” Butler said.

The total number of individuals this year was 1,111 (compared to the average of 1,646).

Total species seen in this year’s Tobermory count was 42. This is slightly above the 45-year-average of 39.9, he said. Additional count week species was one Green-winged Teal spotted near Cape Hurd, he said.

Extreme winter weather last year made for tough birding conditions on count day, he added.

A record high number of wild turkeys (29) was recorded this year, Butler said. Wild Turkey was first detected on the Tobermory count in 2008 and the growing numbers on the Peninsula reflect an ongoing increase throughout the Great Lakes area over the past decade, he said.

A count of four Eastern Screech-Owls tied for the second highest count (four were also detected in 2012). In 2013, seven were recorded (with the average number counted being 0.7), Butler reported. A record high number (155) of Red-breasted Nuthatches were also recorded this year, he said, with the average number being 41. The lowest count of Common Ravens since 1975 were recorded this year at 13 individuals. In 1975, only six were recorded (the average number recorded is 58).

Butler also reported no Great Black-backed Gulls were recorded this year.

“This marks only the second time in 17 years that the species was absent from the count,” he said. The average number recorded is four, Butler said.

Another notable low was that of Herring Gull at 49, which was the lowest since 1985. The average number is about 270, Butler said. “The low numbers of Common Raven and Herring Gull may reflect changes in how household waste is managed at the landfill, although I have no specific knowledge of practices at the St. Edmunds site.

“It is common practice now at many landfills that after each working day, the fresh waste is compacted and covered with fill, thus reducing the attractiveness of the site to wildlife,” Butler said. Only seven species have been recorded on every Tobermory CBC conducted since 1973, Butler said. These are the Common Goldeneye, Herring Gull, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee and Golden-crowned Kinglet.

The annual Christmas Bird Count is a 118-year-old citizen science project of the National Audubon Society.

Noah Cole, communications technician with Ontario Nature, said last year 14,000 Canadians participated in nearly 500 Christmas Bird Counts across the country.

Highlights from the Ontario Christmas Bird Counts in 2016 included record numbers of American robins throughout southern and eastern Ontario; the first ever tufted titmouse was observed in Owen Sound and a rare winter wren was recorded in Wiarton, Cole said in a news release, Dec. 18.

This year, bird counts in Ontario run from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5, with counts on the Bruce Peninsula taking place in Tobermory, Pike Bay, Cape Chin, Wiarton and Cape Croker.

[NOTE: UPDATED with final figures and revised information, Dec. 28, 2017]

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