Carden Alvar Nature Board by Bob BowlesResults of the 10th Carden Alvar CBC

The 10th annual Carden Alvar Christmas bird count was held on Saturday, December 29, 2007. We now have data over the last ten years to analyze how winter bird populations have changed in this interesting area. The first ever Carden Alvar Christmas bird count was held on Saturday, January 2, 1999. I started this count well before we formed the Carden Field Naturalists and early counts were held in homes of participants. Mary Jean Smith hosted our first counts in her home but lately we have held the counts at the Carden Recreation Centre. My team observed two male eastern bluebirds on that count and I remembered how shocked we were to observe bluebirds in January in Carden. You can imagine how I felt a few years later when my team topped that record with two species of frogs (1 green and 1 leopard) during the Carden Christmas count on January 3, 2004. Much has changed over those years with bird and mammal records. Our first counts found 18 wild turkeys but in recent years we have been recording several flocks with total population well over 100 birds. Total species vary from thirty five in low years to fifty two in high years and total individuals from 2,350 to 4,575. Every year is different for both birds and mammals. Mammal species vary from seven to sixteen and individuals mammals from thirty four to one hundred and seventy. Otter, mink, weasel and even raccoon have been recorded on Christmas counts. I am certain that this information will be very helpful to future generations as they look back on global warming and habitat changes to analyze wildlife populations. I have similar data for summer surveys from this area over a slightly longer time period for butterflies and dragonflies.
This year a total of twenty field observers and 21 feeder watchers observed 37 bird species and 2986 individuals. This is very similar to last year with 37 species and 2868 individuals. New species for the count were a green-winged teal and a northern flicker. New highs were 39 American black ducks up from a previous high of 21 in 1999, 10 pileated woodpeckers from a previous high of 8 in 2005, and 19 northern cardinals from a previous high of 6 in 2004. Severn mammal species were observe, the same number as last year, with a new record high of 86 red squirrels up from 64 in 2001. Wild turkey flocks continue to increase as does the number of northern cardinals at winter feeders. Of interest was the fact that the 39 American black ducks greatly outnumbered the 5 mallards for the first time in count history. It has been a good year for Bohemian waxwings (102), pine grosbeaks (55), common redpolls (721) and hoary redpolls (2).

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