More than 13,000 birds recorded during Vernon Christmas bird count

A Varied Thrush spotted during Vernon’s 2022 Christmas bird count on Sunday, Dec. 18. (Jack VanDyk photo)A Varied Thrush spotted during Vernon’s 2022 Christmas bird count on Sunday, Dec. 18. (Jack VanDyk photo)
A Song Sparrow spotted during Vernon’s 2022 Christmas bird count on Sunday, Dec. 18. (Harold Sellers photo)A Song Sparrow spotted during Vernon’s 2022 Christmas bird count on Sunday, Dec. 18. (Harold Sellers photo)
An American Robin caught on camera during Vernon’s 2022 Christmas bird count on Sunday, Dec. 18. (Harold Sellers photo)An American Robin caught on camera during Vernon’s 2022 Christmas bird count on Sunday, Dec. 18. (Harold Sellers photo)

More than 13,000 birds were recorded in Vernon’s 2022 Christmas bird count on Sunday, Dec. 18.

Organizer Harold Sellers thanked participants for their work counting fowls on a “particularly cold and snowy day.”

In total, 80 bird species were observed and 13,428 individuals. A total of 53 people participated, driving more than 751 kilometres and walking more than 88 kilometres.

There were a few notable misses this year, including the Barrow’s goldeneye. The last time the goldeneye hadn’t been seen on a Christmas bird count was 1996.

The gadwall went unseen for the first time in 11 years. For the second year running, there were no sightings of the California gull. The hairy woodpecker went unseen for only the second time on count day, the other being 1998. The pileated woodpecker also wasn’t seen, and the last time that was the case was in 1976. The pine grosbeak — usually seen more often than not — was also unseen.

There were many notable lows, which was likely due to the extreme cold, snow and wind on the day of the count.

Thirty ring-necked pheasants were seen, a new all-time low. Just one northern harrier was spotted, the lowest since 1984. Only one great blue heron was seen, the lowest since 1974. Four rough-legged wawks were counted, the second lowest total since 1968. Just two American kestrels were spotted, the lowest total since 1974. A total of 166 black-capped chickadees were counted, the lowest since 1978. A new all-time low of mountain chickadees were spotted with five.

There were also a few notable highs this year, starting with the Thayer’s Iceland gull. Five were counted, a new all-time high.

The count recorded 506 American robins, the second-highest total in the past 20 years. With 96 varied thrushes counted, the previous record from 1968 was almost doubled. Then came the spotted towhee; last year saw a record high of 12, the previous record was nine from 2002, and this year’s count smashed the record with 38.

The top five most commonly spotted birds was the mallard (3,989), the red-winged blackbird (1,249), the dark-eyed junco (977), the California quail (939) and the Canada goose (835).

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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