Photo submitted by Andrew Godsalve
Participation in Hinton’s 33rd bird count saw a record high this year despite strong winds that kept bird numbers down.
In Hinton, 1,350 birds and 29 species were spotted on Dec. 26, which was an average count for Hinton. Last year’s Hinton count was the third highest on record with 2,184 birds and 34 species.
Coordinator of the project, Beth MacCallum, stated that some exciting observations on the Hinton Count included 10 Cassin’s Finch by Ethel Blinkhorn and three Evening Grosbeak by Wayne and Marilyn Campbell.
“These birds, once common before 2003 are much reduced in recent years and are becoming an unusual sighting for the Hinton count,” MacCallum noted.
Other interesting observations included one Mountain Chickadee, five Bald Eagles, one Northern Pygmy-Owl, and three Steller’s Jays. For the first time in 33 years of the Hinton Christmas Bird Count, Pine Grosbeak were not sighted on count day although one was observed during count week.
MacCallum also visited the regional landfill that day, which helped to keep the common raven count high.
In Brule, 235 birds and 21 species were spotted during that count, compared to last year’s 798 birds.
The 2019 count in Brule was the lowest since 2010 when 187 birds were counted. High winds also kept the count of small birds down. No new species were recorded but MacCallum noted the count included two adult and two young Trumpeter Swans at Pocahontas.
A Northern Pygmy-Owl by Greg Slatter, a Great Gray Owl by Frank Allen and a Black-backed Woodpecker by Greg Slatter were also sighted on the Brule count.
Counts are entered on the Audubon website but the local counts aren’t visible yet to the public. Forty-two people participated in the Hinton birdcount and 17 took part in Brule. That data is collected locally by MacCallum and entered into a national database called Audubon to help assess winter bird population trends across North America.
The bird count has been part of North American culture for 120 years as the longest-running citizen science census. For more info on the count or to see last year’s data go to audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count.