The 2020 Pakenham-Arnprior Bird Count


The 2020 Pakenham-Arnprior CBC
by Michael Runtz

The 2020 Pakenham-Arnprior Christmas Bird Count was my 55th consecutive one (it was called the Pakenham CBC when I first took part but despite popular opinion, cars had been invented by then!). Many of you have been taking part in this count for 20 years or more, with Ryan Zimmerling, completing his 32nd consecutive one as my partner! Britta Gerwin was to join us but unfortunately health issues prevented her from doing so.

The starting temperature was -7°C but soon it inconspicuously dropped to  -8°C, where it remained almost all day with one brief dip to -9°C.  There was a brisk wind for much of the morning and some light flurries early on, but both abated by late morning and the afternoon was surprisingly pleasant.

Sadly, our traditional compilation/potluck could not be held but a Zoom compilation kindly arranged by John Lawrence was better than nothing.

As per last year, no new species were discovered this year but among the impressive 55 species tallied (above the ten-year average of 53), as usual there were some good finds.

A Golden Eagle was the seventh record for the Count. A female Red-breasted Merganser was the eighth record, as was a Great Blue Heron that was spotted and photographed flying over Highway 417 at Arnprior by a passerby.


The most notable aspect of this count was the total number of birds tallied.  A new record of 11,561 individuals was set, shattering the previous record tally of 9,847 set in 2008. This was largely due to three species being present in large numbers:  Common Redpoll (2,714, a new record tally); Snow Bunting (1,706); and Black-capped Chickadee (1,196).   With the irruption of Common Redpolls came an unprecedented number of Hoary Redpolls; the 16 tallied blows away the old record of 4!   Other record highs were recorded for American Crow (756), White-breasted Nuthatch (286), and Northern Cardinal (69).  Undoubtedly the record number of participants also played a key role in the record high numbers!  However, the large number of participants seemed to not help the House Sparrow numbers.  Their numbers have fallen from the record high 2,011 in 1985 to this year’s record low of a mere 61 individuals.

A heartfelt thanks goes to all those who participated in this year’s Pakenham-Arnprior CBC, either as a field observer or a feeder watcher.  And to those who couldn’t make it to this count, I hope you can return next year.

I look forward to seeing many of you on the 2021 Pakenham-Arnprior CBC and hope that all of you enjoy good health and encounter plenty of exciting birds in the New Year.


Happy Birding!

Michael Runtz

30 Dec 2020


Pakenham-Arnprior CBC

26 December 2020


130      Canada Goose

41        Mallard

23       Common Goldeneye

8          Common Merganser

1          Red-breasted Merganser (8th)

9         Ruffed Grouse

521      Wild Turkey

1          Great Blue Heron (8th)

28 *    Bald Eagle

1          Sharp-shinned Hawk

5          Cooper’s Hawk

13        Red-tailed Hawk

8          Rough-legged Hawk

1          Golden Eagle (7th)

1          American Kestrel

2          Merlin

788      Rock Pigeon

385     Mourning Dove

1          Eastern Screech-Owl

4         Barred Owl

90        Downy Woodpecker

95        Hairy Woodpecker

1          Black-backed Woodpecker

21       Pileated Woodpecker

3         Northern Shrike

569     Blue Jay

756**  American Crow

126      Common Raven


30          Horned Lark

1,196    Black-capped Chickadee

174       Red-breasted Nuthatch

286**    White-breasted Nuthatch

19          Brown Creeper

2            Golden-crowned Kinglet

619        European Starling

374        Bohemian Waxwing

60         American Tree Sparrow

95          Dark-eyed Junco

2           Song Sparrow

1            White-throated Sparrow

1,706    Snow Bunting

1            Lapland Longspur

69**     Northern Cardinal

3            Red-winged Blackbird

18          Pine Grosbeak

103       House Finch

8            Purple Finch

47          Red Crossbill

62         White-winged Crossbill

2,714** Common Redpoll

16**      Hoary Redpoll

18         Pine Siskin

107        American Goldfinch

138        Evening Grosbeak

61         House Sparrow


55 species

11,561** individual birds

   Seen during Count Week:

   Red-bellied Woodpecker


Unusual species are bold-faced; the number of times recorded on the count      appears in the brackets if fewer than 10 times.

*   denotes ties record high count

** denotes new record high count

New species are bold-faced and underlined