American Robins did not get the weather forecast for this winter. A record number rejected the prediction of a long cold winter and remained in the Peterborough Region for the Annual Christmas Bird Count. The participants of the count this year reported observing a total of 1,943 American Robins, greatly exceeding the historic high of 759 seen on the count held in 2011. Several of the field parties reported observing flight after flight of robins flying across open fields in to thickets with lots of grapes, in which they then proceeded to feed. The bumper crop of grapes is the attraction for the American Robins this winter. It will be interesting to see how long these numbers remain during the winter months. The flocks of American Robins were just one of the many highlights of this year’s Peterborough CBC held on Sunday, December 18, 2016. The participants observed 59 species of birds representing 13,860 individuals. Other highlights include:
New Species: Horned Grebe – 1 was observed on the Otonabee River behind the downtown Harvey’s by the Donald Sutherland, Ken Abraham and M.E. Obbard group. It was also observed by two other groups. This individual had been around for a period of time prior to the count. Eastern Bluebird – 2 were observed near the intersection of the Lang/Hasting Trail and the Old Keene Road by the party consisting of Scott McKinlay and Susan Malan. This is a new species for the Peterborough CBC.
Unusual Species: Snow Goose – 1 individual in a flock of Canada Geese. This is only the second time this species has been on the count. Lesser Black – backed Gull – 1 on the Otonabee River represents the 4th time on the count Brown Thrasher – 1 individual was reported and photographed by Dave Milsom. This is only the 2nd
time on the count.
High Numbers: Sharp – shinned Hawk – 5 which ties the record high of 1995, 2000, 2010, and 2014 Bald Eagles – A total of 5 is a new count high exceeding the previous high of 4 in 2013 Eastern Screech Owl – The 4 recorded by 3 parties is a new count high. Previous was 3 in 2013 Red-bellied Woodpecker – 8 ties the previous high. American Crow – The 953 recorded exceeds the previous high of 691 in 2011 White-breasted Nuthatch – The 120 individuals exceeded the previous high of 116 in 2014 Dark-eyed Junco – The 543 individuals are a new high. The previous high was 515 in 2014
Low Numbers: Canada Goose – Only 71 were observed as the cold temperatures just prior to the count reduced the amount of open water. Numbers of other waterfowl were low as well. Ruffed Grouse – 2 – The number of this species is continuing to decline from a peak of 82 in 1979 8 Great Horned Owl – 1 – A low number. In the 1992 count, 40 were reported. Winter Finches – The following winter finches were absent due to lack of winter cones and other seeds: Pine Grosbeak, White-winged Crossbill, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin, Common Redpoll, Hoary Redpoll and Evening Grosbeak.