The Official Bird Tally: results of the 2017 Pemberton Christmas Bird Count are in and the numbers are the lowest on record

Thanks to Karl Ricker and the bird counters, for their ongoing observations of our habitat. Lots of commentators that 2017 was a lamentable year on many fronts. Seems the birds agreed. Here’s to a more robust and thriving 2018.

Pemberton Christmas Bird Count Highlights (2001 – 2017)
by Karl Ricker

Introduction:
Year 2017 was plagued with adversities: fires, late autumn storms and poor spawning runs, which saw the waterfowl and dippers in the Birkenhead River virtually uninhabited, and thereby chopping the eagle count by more than 50%. It also yielded no shore birds as well as an absence of all grebe species. However, it did bring out two owl species which had been seen only previously in count weeks. Overall, the volume of birds was the lowest on record and 55 species saw counts below their historical average.

Seventeen Christmas bird counts at Pemberton–Mt. Currie have now seen 113 species, although there were no species additions in 2017.

Seen All years (average count)

Mallard (18.4); Common Goldeneye (25.3); Bufflehead (47.4); Great Blue Heron (6.2); Bald Eagle (50.4); Downy Woodpecker (10.1); Hairy Woodpecker (6.0); Flickers (28.5); Pileated Woodpecker (6.0); Steller’s Jay (90.2); North Western Crow (119.1); Raven (107.6); Black- capped Chickadee (116.6); Red-breasted Nuthatch (9.5); Pacific Wren (3.2); American Dipper (22.7); European Starling (97.0); Spotted towhee (32.5); Song Sparrow (34.6); Dark-eyed Junco (337.3)

Top Ten Abundance (average of 17 counts)

Junco (337.6); Pine Siskin (214.1); North Western Crow (119.1); Black-capped Chickadee (116.6); Raven (107.6); Starling (97.0); Steller’s Jay (90.2); Red-winged Blackbird (86.2); American Crow (76.9); Bald Eagle (60.4); Brewer’s Blackbird (50.1)

High Counts (# species in year)

  • 2001: 8
  • 2002: 9
  • 2003: 2
  • 2004: 4
  • 2005: 2
  • 2006: 5
  • 2007: 2
  • 2008: 1
  • 2009: 10
  • 2010: 3
  • 2011: 7
  • 2012: 10
  • 2013: 7
  • 2014: 5
  • 2015: 11
  • 2016: 5
  • 2017: 4

Changes Over the Years
a) Disappearances
Snow geese; Spruce Grouse; Golden Eagle; Gray Jay

b) Late (Recent) Appearances
Red-necked Grebe; Northern Harrier; Rough-legged Hawk; Rock Pigeon; Eurasian Collard-dove; Northern Saw Whet Owl; Clark’s Nutcracker; Mountain Bluebird (in c/w); Townsend’s Solitaire; Barn Owl; White-throated Sparrow

Unusual Finds
Tundra Swan (2006); White-tailed Ptarmigan (2011); Chukar (2006); Western Grebe (2012); Double-crested Cormorant (2012); Virginia Rail (2005); Long-eared Owl (2007); Anna’s Hummingbird (2013); Bewick’s Wren (2009); Harris’ Sparrow (2015); Lapland Longspur (2004); Brown-headed Cowbird (2006); Barn Owl (2016); White- throated sparrow (2016); Saw-whet Owl (2017; Barred Owl (2017) with count day appearances.

Overdue
Common Loon; Horned Grebe; Wood Duck; American Coot; White-breasted Nuthatch; Bushtit; Hermit Thrush; Greater White-fronted Goose

Significant Reductions in #’s (2017)
C. Raven, Pine Siskin, Eurasian Collared-dove, House Sparrow

The Pemberton Wildlife Association has a local bird checklist here, for those wanting to learn the local inhabitants.