As Michael Runtz quips, Boxing Day is his favourite day of the year, but not for post-Christmas sales. Macnamara Club members know why: it’s when the local Christmas Bird Count takes place!
Michael joined four Counts this year, his 56th consecutive Pakenham-Arnprior CBC. Collectively, he has participated in more than 200 CBCs in Ontario and on our 2022 members’ night he shared highlights of those years along with the local 2021 Count results reflecting 57 species recorded by 36 field observers and 12 feeder watchers.
Some background for non-birders: Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) take place in mid-December to early January; some start before daybreak, others at dawn. Participants are assigned an area within a 24-kilometre diameter circle and count every bird they see or hear with a 24-hour period.
Each Count has its highlights: one for Michael has been the Le Conte’s Sparrow sighted on the Kingston CBC in 2005; it was the first ever recorded in Canada on a CBC! Other special findings made by Michael along with Ryan Zimmerling on our local count include the first records of Peregrine Falcon (2010), Red-throated Loon (2015), and Hermit Thrush (2016). Michael has taken part in more than 200 CBCs across Ontario and has contributed many excellent finds with the most memorable being the first Le Conte’s Sparrow for the Kingston Count that was also the first ever recorded on a Canadian CBC! Other great finds include the first Boreal Owl for the Ottawa-Hull CBC and the first Vesper Sparrow for the Sandbanks CBC.
Male Redhead, Ethan McCann
On the recent 2021 Count, Alberto Suárez discovered a Northern Flicker in his backyard! In addition to the woodpecker, a new species for the Count, Alberto tallied a group of Eastern Bluebirds, only the second time recorded on the Count. They were not the only bluebirds tallied that day; Ethan McCann and Rachel Clouthier also found a few near Blakeney, bringing the total tallied to seven.
Ethan and Rachel made an even bigger find at Pakenham—a male Redhead. This species, new for the Count, and Alberto’s Northern Flicker brought the all-time species total to 130! It was a record high year for American Crows – some 1330 were recorded.