Bird Count Reports
Saskatoon Fall Migration Bird Count
by Craig Salisbury
Participants in this year’s fall count, held Saturday, September 7, were treated to a pleasant and dry day. Rural area roads were dry, and moderate temperature and wind contributed to a successful count with above average results.
A total of 53,166 birds were reported, well above the long-term average of 46,481 birds. Forty-five count participants recorded 158 species, 12 more than the average of 146 species. One new species was added to the list of all species recorded on previous fall counts, that being an American Three-toed Woodpecker reported by Maureen DuWors and Marlene Mahoney at the former site of the Saskatoon Sanatorium. A Purple Martin, a species seen on only one previous fall count, was reported, as was a Western Kingbird, a species seen on only two previous counts. Both species are local summer residents that usually migrate before the fall count occurs.
Five Eurasian Collared-Doves, a species reported on only two previous fall counts, were seen in the Hanley/Indi Lake area. This dove has been dispersing globally since the end of the 19th century, both on its own and through questionable introductions to new areas. Introduced to the Bahamas in the 1970s, Collared-Doves entered North America through Florida and have been slowly but steadily populating the continent.
Goose numbers were up significantly, due in large part to huge flocks of Snow and Canada Geese passing through our area. Duck numbers, however, were below normal for all but a few species, including Ruddy Ducks and Common Goldeneyes, which were recorded at slightly above average numbers. Grebe numbers were all above average with the exception of Western Grebes, with only one individual being counted.
For only the fourth time since 1995 the number of Swainson’s Hawks (134) exceeded the number of Red-tailed Hawks (70), continuing an anomaly noted in this spring’s count. The total number of shorebirds was high due to above average numbers of Killdeer, American Avocets, Greater Yellowlegs, Semipalmated and Stilt Sandpipers, and Red-necked Phalaropes.
Thrush numbers were unimpressive, with only 1 Gray-cheeked Thrush and 10 Swainson’s Thrushes reported. American Robins were common with 639 counted, 45% greater than the long-term average. Of note was a robin nestling covered only in down, spotted in a nest at Rotary Park.
Eighty-five Gray Catbirds were identified, beating the previous record of 54 reported last year. Twenty-two Brown Thrashers were one more than the old record of 21 set in 2011.
Overall numbers of warblers were down but 16 species were identified, including two reports of a Nashville Warbler and one report of a Connecticut Warbler. A record 12 Wilson’s Warblers were seen, exceeding the previous record of 8 from 2008.
A record 15 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were counted, smashing the previous record of 3 seen in three previous years. Most were juveniles in somewhat drab plumage compared to the striking black, white and red plumage of breeding season males. They are more commonly heard than seen, producing a single note squeak that is sometimes monotonously repeated.
Finch numbers were above average, thanks to a record number of American Goldfinches (393 compared to 324 reported last year) and a record number of Purple Finches (16 compared to 11 reported in 2010 and 1995).
You can download the complete tabulated report here:
Saskatoon Nature Society
Connecting People and Nature
Saskatoon Nature Society
Box 448, RPO University
Saskatoon, SK S7N 4J8