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2020 Christmas Bird Count in Glenelm

Many thanks to Glenelm resident Natalie Reinhart for contributing this year’s Christmas Bird Count! For more on local birds, see the 2017, 2018 and 2019 CBCs and also a special piece on owls in Glenelm.

2020 Christmas Bird Count

By: Natalie Reinhart

Photo above: A grey morph Eastern screech owl roosting the day away in a tree cavity.

The 2020 Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was held on December 20th and my husband Brent and I were excited to be able to participate in this annual event again this year!  Despite COVID-19 limiting bird counters to only participate with members of their own household, many continued to participate in this annual tradition in Winnipeg to count the birds. While some, like Brent and I, participated on foot, others watched and counted at their own backyard feeders.  We were very happy for a milder day compared to the chilly day we had last year as we roamed the streets of Glenelm listening and watching for as many birds as we could find!

The usual species were numerous, and we are thrilled to report increased numbers of Black-capped Chickadees, White-Breasted Nuthatches, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers compared to last year.  We also had higher counts of some common urban species, including American Crows, Common Ravens, Rock Pigeons, House Sparrows, House Finches and European Starlings.  On the rarer side, we spotted three White-Throated Sparrows, a species that normally isn’t found this far north in the colder winter months!  These sparrows normally travel further south into the United States for the winter.

The highlight of this year’s CBC in Glenelm was spotting an Eastern Screech Owl!  These small owls are year-round residents in Winnipeg which is at the northern periphery of the species’ range.  Standing at only 10” tall, they come in grey or red “morphs”, the latter being rare in Manitoba.  The Eastern Screech Owl is nocturnal, so it sleeps the day away and comes out from dusk until dawn to hunt mainly small birds, rodents and invertebrates.  They roost during the daytime in tree cavities, often unseen, so naturally we were thrilled that one made itself visible to us on count day!

Richard and Diana Staniforth participated in the 2020 CBC by conducting a “Feeder Watch” from their kitchen window, in Glenelm. They recorded as many birds as possible in their yard for the entire day. Their first bird was an Eastern Screech Owl, heard calling at 5:00 am; an early and exciting start to a busy day. Black-capped Chickadees, House Sparrows, White-breasted Nuthatches, woodpeckers and a single White-throated Sparrow were active at their feeders throughout the day. Their final bird was a Bald Eagle, seen flying along the Red River at the bottom of their yard. A good bird with which to end the day’s observations!

We are still waiting to hear the full 2020 CBC results from the Winnipeg area, but hope that the increased number of birds seen in Glenelm is a reflection of the remainder of the city.  While 2020 has been a challenging year for many, we have enjoyed time to slow down and appreciate the birds around our neighbourhood.  Please contact Rudolf Koes (rkoes@mts.net) if you would like to take part in the Christmas Bird Count 2021.

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