Bird Count Reports
Saskatoon Spring Migration Bird Count May 28, 2022
Saskatoon Spring Migration Bird Count
May 28, 2022
by John Patterson and Stan Shadick
The participation rate on the count this year returned to more normal levels after an exceptionally high number of participants in the first two years of the COVID outbreak. Fifty-seven participants enjoyed fair weather, but found that bird numbers were low, especially waterfowl and raptors, which have been impacted by an outbreak of avian influenza (AI). Reduced aquatic habitat due to drought and the absence of a weather system moving through prior to the count also contributed to reduced numbers.
At 166, the species count was the lowest since 2005. There were no new species added this year, but Trumpeter Swan and Caspian Tern were seen for only the second time in the history of the count.
In the following discussion, raw counts since 1985 have been corrected for the variation in party hours from year to year (corrected count = raw count x long-term average party hours / party hours) so that counts of different years are comparable. The counts shown in the tables are uncorrected, as reported by the sector leaders.
All waterfowl species, with the exception of Canada Goose, Bufflehead and Hooded Merganser, were below their long-term average (LTA). Red-necked Grebe was the only grebe to exceed the LTA. The four lowest counts for Pied-billed Grebe since 1985 have been recorded in the last four years. This year only one was found. American Coot count was extremely low in 2019-20, recovered somewhat in 2021, but set a new low count again this year at 77 vs LTA of 752.
Raptor counts were low this year, especially for Red-tailed Hawk, at 22% of the LTA and less than half the previous low count. This is almost certainly due to AI. Swainson’s Hawk, while at the low end of its range, seems to have been less affected. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of USDA has reported that of 1685 confirmed cases of AI this year in wild birds, 32% were in raptors, with 80 cases in Red-tailed Hawk and only one in Swainson’s Hawk. They also reported 87 cases in Great Horned Owl and the count this year was 33% of the LTA for Great Horned Owl.
Sparrow counts were all below the LTA, except for Lark Sparrow. Only twelve warbler species were recorded, but Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart and Yellow Warbler all exceeded their LTAs. With clear weather prior to the count migrant warblers passed over us without stopping. Thank you to all who participated in the count this year. We hope you will join us again on future counts.
Saskatoon Nature Society
Connecting People and Nature
Saskatoon Nature Society
Box 27013 Grosvenor Park
Saskatoon, SK S7H 5N9