Bird Count Reports
Saskatoon Fall Migration Bird Count
by Kiron Giroux
The Nature Society’s 2016 Fall Bird Count took place on Saturday, September 10th this year. As with the last couple years, the number of individual birds was lower than usual with 35,125 birds counted, the long-term mean being 44,740. However, the number of species found this year is slightly higher than usual, with 148 species found, the long-term being 145. Thankfully, we had a few more volunteers than the last couple years with 44, so all of the sectors were birded for at least part of the day.
There was at least one new sighting added to the fall count sightings this year. A Golden-crowned Kinglet found by Daniel Giesbrecht and Ana Mana Diaz, just southwest of the Beaver Creek Conservation area in a mixed flock with warblers and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
There was also one exciting potential new sighting of a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper seen by Stan Shadick. The description of the bird that Stan gave was “A Pectoral-sized sandpiper with yellow legs, it showed a very obvious rufous-coloured crown with a buffy breast and white underside.” He went into much greater detail on his Saskbirds/eBird posts. Unfortunately, he did not have any camera equipment with him, so it will likely remain as a hypothetical sighting.
There was a record number of Great-blue Herons this year, with 30 individuals; the previous record was 17 in 2007.
Hawk numbers were around average this year, with a few surprises. Red-tailed Hawks reached a record high, with 140 reported; the previous record was 130 in 2010. There was a surprising Rough-legged Hawk found, as well as a couple of Broad-winged Hawks.
Chickadee and Nuthatch numbers were up quite a bit this year. Both the Black-capped Chickadee and the White-breasted Nuthatch had record highs, and the Red-breasted Nuthatch had the second highest count since 1995 when the count was switched from August to September. The Black-capped Chickadee had 569 counted, shattering the record of 434 in 2012. The White-breasted Nuthatch had 13 counted, more than double its previous record of 6 in 2015. Finally, the Red-breasted Nuthatch had 192 counted, with the record at 241 in 2012, yet still much higher than the next highest count of 121 in 1997.
A total of 16 species of warblers were reported this year. However, 6 of those species were reported by only one team and represented by only one or two individual birds. Even with many of the species being represented by a low number of individuals, the total number of warblers was up 19% over the long-term mean. The cause of this was a surprisingly large amount of Yellow-rumped Warblers, with 1,066 individuals counted, the highest count for them since 2003. Sparrow and finch numbers were both down this year.
Sparrows were down to just 42% of normal, and finches were down to 69% of normal. The American Goldfinch was very slightly above its long-term mean of 188 with 194 individuals reported. There was a record number of Purple Finches this year, with 20 individuals; the previous record was 16 in 2013.
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