Carden Alvar Nature Board by Bob BowlesCarden Alvar CBC

The 14th annual Carden Alvar Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was held on Monday, January 2, 2012 as part of the 112th National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada events across North and South American held every year between December 14th and January 5th.
There were 23 field participants in 8 parties and 7 feeder watchers who took part in the count this year that tallied 42 species and 2668 birds. They also recorded 88 mammals of 8 species. New birds for the count were a Red-breasted Merganser and a Rusty Blackbird. New high counts were 4 Common Goldeneye ducks up from 2 in 2003, 2 Bald Eagles up from 1 in 2001, 163 Wild Turkeys up from 136 in 2005, 2 Red-bellied Woodpeckers up from 1 in 2005, an amazing 53 American Robins up from 17 in 2002, and 83 White-winged Crossbills up from 36 in 2000. Other interesting observations were 4 Hooded Mergansers, 15 Red-tailed Hawks, 12 Rough-legged Hawks, 1 American Kestrel, 1 Belted Kingfisher, 76 Bohemian Waxwings, 9 Northern Shrikes, 5 Northern Cardinals, 36 Common Redpolls and 12 Pine Siskins. The winter finch numbers had been low leading up to the count this winter. Birds missed on the count that may have been expected were Snowy Owls and Gray Jays.
We also count all mammals observed during the day as well since before the first Christmas Bird Count back in 1900, the Side Hunt carried on during the Christmas Season counted every bird and mammal that they were able to shoot during the day. We feel that counting mammals running wild in a bush or birds perching in a tree is much more enjoyable than counting their dead bodies in a pile of feathers and fur. We recorded 88 mammals of 8 species during the count. The mammal list included 20 Red Squirrels, 4 grey morph and 35 black morph Eastern Gray Squirrel, 3 Flying Squirrels, 2 American Beaver, 1 Meadow Vole, 13 Muskrat, 1 Porcupine, and 9 White-tailed Deer. One Eastern Chipmunk was recorded in count week. Mammals expected but not observed were Eastern Coyotes, Red Fox and members of the rabbit and weasel families.
I think the highlight for me this year was not the adult Bald Eagle that flew low over our heads at one point during the day but the 23 American Robin in a tightly packed group on the ground on a bare patch of soil in a water seep completely surrounded by snow and frozen ground.
There were very few well stocked feeders which accounted for the Northern Cardinal and Red-breasted Woodpecker numbers but it was noticed that there were fewer winter bird feeders operational this year probably due to the poor economy. One family that had lots of birds at their feeders including Gray Jay previous winters told me that with the high price of bird seed and the poor economy they have decided not to operate the feeders this winter. Bald Eagles and Northern Cardinals are two species of birds that have increased in number on this count in recent years.
I want to thank the Carden Field Naturalists for their support on this count and for the organization and preparation of the food for the pot-luck dinner that we hold every year after a day in the field.

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