2019 Christmas Bird Count Report And Results

Dark-eyed Junco (by Paul Blayney)

(Report written by Russ McGillivray, Christmas Bird Count Co-ordinator;
the Dark-eyed Junco image is by Paul Blayney)

The 120th annual Christmas Bird Count is run by the Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada. Counts can be done on any single day between Dec 14 and Jan 5 and are conducted within a circle of diameter 24 km (15 miles). This year we counted on 2020 January 04, marking our 28th count as several years were missed. Since 1987, the UCFN/HN have been responsible for the Caledon circle, which includes Orangeville.

Headwaters Nature Christmas Bird Count map
Headwaters Nature Christmas Bird Count map

Weather was around zero degrees and overcast all day. Unfortunately, still bodies of water, such as in the gravel pits, were frozen. The species count was 38 (5 year average of 40) with 3,301 individuals (lowest since 2013; average 4,235).

We had 33 observers (a record) in our six sectors and all together the parties logged 54 hours and 718 km. Areas 1, 3 and 4 were split into two separate teams each and the feedback is that this worked well.

Headwaters Nature Christmas Bird Count results 2019
  • New to the Headwaters Nature 2019 count were Green-winged Teal (male and female) and a pair of feral Mute Swans. Other good finds were Brown Creeper (5, tying the record), two Great-Horned Owls (last counted in 2011), and 14 Ravens (tying record). We also had Northern Flicker (1), Belted Kingfisher (2), Robin (29), Cedar Waxwing (67), Golden-crown Kinglet (3) and House Finch (27).
  • Notable misses were Pileated Woodpecker (last zero count was 2012) and Northern Shrike (last zero count was 2015). Purple Finch (7) was the only winter finch. The only hawks were Red-tailed (8) and Cooper’s (2).

What does our own count data tell us about trends in bird populations of common (or once common) species? I compared the average count for the first five years (1987-91) with the last five years (2015-19) where the birds were counted in all five of the baseline years.

  • Declines of 50% or more: Ruffed Grouse, Rough-legged Hawk, Blue Jay, Chickadee, Cedar Waxwing, Cardinal, House Finch, Purple Finch, Evening Grosbeak and House Sparrow.
  • Increases of 100% or more: Canada Goose, Mallard, Wild Turkey, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Crow, Raven, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Robin.
  • No big surprises for anyone who has been a birder for a couple of decades, but there are obviously a number of causal factors at work. Overall, the number of species has gone down by 10% and the number of individuals counted has gone down by 8%.

We’ll hope to see even more counters next year! It’s only necessary to be interested and committed to the counting — and appropriately dressed! We spread around our ‘experts’ amongst the rest of us!

2018 November: Batwoman is coming to Town!

Outdoor adventurer Cylita “Batwoman” Guy of the University of Toronto and Ontario Science Centre will talk about her research on viruses and bats.

2018 November 27, 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm, at our usual meeting place.

Cylita Guy is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on bats and their viruses. Using a combination of field and computational approaches she is investigating why bats seem to be good at carrying viruses that they sometimes share with humans, but rarely get sick from themselves.

In her spare time she looks to help others foster their own senses of curiosity and discovery. She works as a Host at the Ontario Science Centre and started a Junior Bat Biologist Program in conjunction with the High Park Nature Centre. You can also read about her hilarious field exploits in the recent general audience book Fieldwork Fail: The Messy Side of Science! In her down time, you’ll find her chasing her next big outdoor adventure.

2018 April: FoldScope — a functioning origami microscope!

2018 April
For our final Speakers Night of the season we will be hosting a very unique hands on workshop.
You will get to build and use a  FoldScope, a functioning origami microscope made from paper.
These were developed by Manu Prakash and his associates with intent of making microscopy available to everyone around the world. Here is Prakesh at a TED Talk describing his microscope and how it can revolutionize health care in developing countries. https://www.ted.com/talks/manu_prakash_a_50_cent_microscope_that_folds_like_origami .
FoldScopes have become very popular with professional and amateur scientists and naturalists around the world for exploring the microbiome. The microbiome is a diverse world populated by creatures smaller than the eye can see.
You will be using your FoldScope to look for creatures such as rotifers, nematodes, copepods, vorticella, tardigrades, and other fascinating creatures.
For more info about FoldScopes  https://www.foldscope.com
Tuesday April 24th at 7:30 P.M. at the Orangeville and District Seniors Centre on 26 Bythia St.
Here are several photos of the folding process of making the FoldScope, as well as one hurried photo of a prepared slide of marine diatoms.  (The prepared slide came with a used microscope I was given in elementary school. The slide is now approaching 70 years old, and is rather faded … I think this view is better than I could see with the cheap microscope back then. Such horrid microscopes are still being sold and bought today …)

Ready to fold the clever ramp (on the right side) used as a focusing mechanism. The left side is the lens stage.

The finished FoldScope, ready for use!

Looking through the FoldScope at an old prepared slide of marine diatoms

1 3 4 5 6 7 16