Great horned owls were among the birds found during the annual Christmas bird count Dec. 18.

Great horned owls were among the birds found during the annual Christmas bird count Dec. 18.

Observers view bird variety

North Okanagan Naturalists Club's annual Vernon Christmas bird count observes a variety of feathered friends

Peter Blokker

Special to The Morning Star

The 62nd annual Vernon Christmas bird count took place Dec. 18.

The weather was exceptionally good this year, mostly sunshine, calm and mild.

Excellent bird- observation weather.

So it was somewhat disappointing that the number of individual birds as well as the no. of species was a bit lower than usual.

The reasons are difficult to pinpoint. Fewer observers? No open water at Swan Lake? Not as many Bohemian waxwings as the last few years.

Let’s hope that it is not simply because we have fewer birds, though with more and more habitat loss in our area, that could well be the case.

A total of 16,709 birds of 81 species were counted.

Unusual sightings were two Virginia rails, a peregrine falcon and 29 Eurasian collared doves, an interesting introduced species, native to western Asia, outcompeting local turtle doves.

First introduced to the Bahamas, it has rapidly spread over most of the continent since the late 1970s and was first seen in our area only a few years ago.

The list of birds seen.

10 Common Loon

9  Pied-billed Grebe

138 Horned Grebe

8  Red-necked Grebe

40 Western Grebe

13 Great Blue Heron

2,304 Canada Goose

1 Wood Duck

6 Green-winged Teal

2,287 Mallard

16 American Wigeon

3 Canvasback

5 Greater Scaup

17 Common Goldeneye

1 Barrow’s Goldeneye

13 Bufflehead

9 Hooded Merganser

229 Common Merganser

55 Bald Eagle

13 Northern Harrier

9 Sharp-shinned Hawk

12 Cooper’s Hawk

53 Red-tailed Hawk

13 Rough-legged Hawk

2 Golden Eagle

6 American Kestrel

8 Merlin

1 Peregrine Falcon

106 Ring-necked Pheasant

3 Ruffed Grouse

1888 California Quail

2 Virginia Rail

3 Wilson’s Snipe

96 Ring-billed Gull

50 California Gull

207 Herring Gull

1 Thayer’s Gull

33 Glaucous-winged Gull

317 Rock Pigeon

422 Mourning Dove

29 Eurasian Collared-Dove

11 Great Horned Owl

7 Belted Kingfisher

12 Downy Woodpecker

7 Hairy Woodpecker

220 Northern Flicker

6 Pileated Woodpecker

20 Steller’s Jay

1 Clark’s Nutcracker

298 Black-billed Magpie

229 American Crow

144 Common Raven

354 Black-capped Chickadee

30 Mountain Chickadee

24 Red-breasted Nuthatch

12 White-breasted Nuthatch

46 Pygmy Nuthatch

2 Brown Creeper

8 Marsh Wren

7 Golden-crowned Kinglet

1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet

2 Townsend Solitaire

17 American Robin

898 Bohemian Waxwing

3 Northern Shrike

1857 Europian Starling

4  Spotted Towhee

4  American Tree Sparrow

97 Song Sparrow

41 White-crowned Sparrow

273 Dark-eyed Junco

510 Red-winged Blackbird

3 Brewer’s Blackbird

1,039 House Finch

38 Common Redpoll

84 Pine Siskin

285 American Goldfinch

15 Evening Grosbeak

1,163 House Sparrow


Peter Blokker is with the North Okanagan Naturalists Club.