A total of 27 Hooded Mergansers were counted in the annual Christmas bird count in Penticton held on Dec. 18. This stunning bird even has a Penticton restaurant named after it. This beautiful male merganser was photographed by Jodi Forster on Dec. 28. (Jodi Forster photo)

A total of 27 Hooded Mergansers were counted in the annual Christmas bird count in Penticton held on Dec. 18. This stunning bird even has a Penticton restaurant named after it. This beautiful male merganser was photographed by Jodi Forster on Dec. 28. (Jodi Forster photo)

Lowest Christmas bird count in Penticton since 1975

Only 82 bird species were counted at the annual event held Dec. 27

The Penticton Christmas Bird Count was held under snowy, windy conditions on Sunday, Dec. 18, resulting in the lowest count since 1975.

“High winds, cold temperatures and snow made it difficult to see and hear birds, and on top of that we were missing five or six of our experienced team leaders for various reasons,” said South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings, who took over organizing the count from his father Steve Cannings who started the event over 60 years ago.

Poor weather resulted in a low species count (82), in fact, the lowest species count since 1975 and the lowest effort (time spent looking) since 1990, Cannings said.

Weather was -8 to -13 C (got colder through the day) and with two to 10 centimetres of snow in the valley, most oxbows were frozen over. There were 42 people who participated with 116.5 collective hours of bird watching.

In total, 2,642 Canada Geese were counted on Dec. 18, showing that they are thriving. However, only one fox sparrow and one golden sparrow were counted on that day.

“It’s difficult to make any broad statements about bird numbers, though clearly some types of birds (forest birds such as chickadees, nuthatches, finches) had moved elsewhere for the winter and were very hard to find. We did have one Anna’s Hummingbird in Summerland, so that was a nice surprise after the cold snap.” Last year, they counted 11.

READ MORE: 102 bird species in 2021 Christmas count

Varied thrushes, a relative of the robin with a black necklace, were seen in very good numbers, as were juncos, the common feeder bird with a black hood and white tail flashes.

Seven great blue herons were spotted in the 2022 Christmas bird count in Penticton. (Jodi Forster)

The 48th Vaseux Lake Christmas count was held on Tuesday, Dec. 27 under better weather conditions but with somewhat similar results.

Twenty people helped out and found 75 species, one of our lowest species totals ever (though marginally better than last year when temperatures were in the -27 C range). The highlight was the California Scrub-Jay that has been hanging out in Okanagan Falls for the past couple of weeks, the first time they’ve ever had one on the count, said Cannings. In total, 6,748 birds were counted.

The Oliver-Osoyoos count will take place this coming Saturday, Dec. 31.

PENTICTON BIRD COUNT:

Canada Goose 2642

Trumpeter Swan 26

Wood Duck 14

Gadwall 20

American Wigeon 6

Mallard 1057

Redhead 156

Ring-necked Duck 26

Greater Scaup 346

Bufflehead 71

Common Goldeneye 55

Barrow’s Goldeneye 4

Hooded Merganser 27

Common Merganser 50

Ring-necked Pheasant 11

California Quail 994

Ruffed Grouse 1

Common Loon 2

Pied-billed Grebe 21

Horned Grebe 20

Red-necked Grebe 10

Great Blue Heron 7

Bald Eagle: adult 41

Bald Eagle: immature 4

Northern Harrier 2

Sharp-shinned Hawk 6

Cooper’s Hawk 8

Accipiter sp. 2

Red-tailed Hawk 29

Rough-legged Hawk 2

American Kestrel 3

Merlin 5

Peregrine Falcon 1

American Coot 1195

Ring-billed Gull 27

California Gull 4

Herring Gull 25

Glaucous-winged Gull 17

gull, sp. 129

Rock Pigeon 208

Eurasian Collared-Dove 136

Mourning Dove 43

Western Screech-Owl cw

Great Horned Owl 4

Anna’s Hummingbird 1

Belted Kingfisher 2

Downy Woodpecker 4

Hairy Woodpecker 2

Red-shafted Flicker 168

intergrade Flicker 1

Pileated Woodpecker 1

Northern Shrike 2

Steller’s Jay 15

Clark’s Nutcracker 5

Black-billed Magpie 97

American Crow 105

Common Raven 781

Black-capped Chickadee 52

Mountain Chickadee 30

Red-breasted Nuthatch 10

Pygmy Nuthatch 71

Brown Creeper 2

Canyon Wren 2

American Dipper 2

Golden-crowned Kinglet 9

Western Bluebird 129

Townsend’s Solitaire 8

American Robin 420

Varied Thrush 80

European Starling 1903

Bohemian Waxwing 2494

Cedar Waxwing 145

Spotted Towhee 30

American Tree Sparrow 4

Song Sparrow 115

Fox Sparrow 1

White-throated Sparrow 2

Golden-cr. Sparrow 1

White-crowned Sparrow 20

Dark-eyed (Sc) Junco 9

Dark-eyed (Ore) Junco 1596

Red-winged Blackbird 27

Brewer’s Blackbird 14

Cassin’s Finch 4

House Finch 495

Red Crossbill 27

American Goldfinch 193

House Sparrow 478

TOTAL INDIVIDUALS 17016

TOTAL SPECIES 82

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

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