Merritt Christmas Bird Count – December 2017

Good weather, many participants, a good selection of birds and one very surprising species were the features of the 2017-18 Christmas Bird Count in Merritt, held on 16 December 2017. This was the 19th CBC in Merritt, starting in 1995. We had 34 participants (close to our record of 35 people), recorded 65 species (above average) and 4,785 birds (well above average). For a complete record of the count data click here: Merritt Xmas Count data 1995-2017

Several species recorded their highest count totals ever:

  • Canada Goose: 782 (average is 206 birds)
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye: 59 (average is 27)
  • Hooded Merganser: 21 (average is 4)
  • Chukar: 22 (found on only 2 previous counts)
  • Hairy Woodpecker: 11 (average is 5)
  • Black-billed Magpie: 72 (average is 32)
  • American Crow:   347 (average is 72)
  • Varied Thrush: 5 (found on only 4 previous counts)
  • Common Redpoll: 376 (average is 45).

Varied Thrush is an unusual species to find in winter in Merritt – it had been recorded in only 4 of the previous 18 Merritt CBCs, but five were counted in 2017. Photo: ©Corinne & David Pitt

A record number of Common Redpoll (376 birds) was recorded in the 2017 Merritt CBC. Photo: ©Bob Scafe

The highlight of the day was the discovery of a Prairie Falcon in the Lundbom Commons area. This is now a rare bird anywhere in British Columbia and a first for the Merritt CBC. It will be interesting to see if any other Christmas count in Canada reports this species.

This Prairie Falcon was a first for the Merritt Christmas counts, and Diana Grimshire managed to get identifiable photos using her smart phone to shoot through a spotting scope. Photos: ©Diana Grimshire

Some species that had exceptionally high but not record high counts included:

  • Mallard – 1,384 (average is 981 birds)
  • Bald Eagle – 65 (average is 29)
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 28 (average is 16)
  • Rough-legged Hawk – 12 (average is 7)
  • Steller’s Jay – 34 (average is 13)

Red-tailed Hawk – a near-record high of 28 birds was recorded in the 2017 Merritt CBC. Photo: ©Bonny Kozub

As always in a Christmas count there were a few unexpected absences. In 2017 these species failed to appear:

  • Merlin – seen in 13 of the previous 18 CBCs in Merritt.
  • Blackbirds – not a single Red-winged or Brewer’s!   Normally we get about 100 Red-winged and 50 Brewer’s. A Red-winged was seen in the 2017 count week.
  • American Robin – seen in 15 of the previous 18 CBCs in Merritt.

And it is always good to see the more common but still lovely species that winter in our area ………

Hairy Woodpecker – seen on the Merritt CBC, 16 December 2017. Photo: ©Bonny Kozub

Evening Grosbeak – only three of these attractive birds were found on the 2017 Merritt CBC. Photo: ©Bonny Kozub

This entry was posted in Features, Past meetings. Bookmark the permalink.