By Richard and Diana Staniforth | richard_staniforth @yahoo.ca
The 2018 Christmas Bird Count was held on December 16th. Diana and I were responsible for listing all the birds that we could find in Elmwood, but we spent the entire morning in the Glenelm portion because it is the most productive part. Later that evening we contributed our bird numbers to those of the entire City of Winnipeg for its complete census. This was done in a spirit of fun and laughter over a potluck supper with other bird enthusiasts whom we have got to know over the years.
Photographs: Glenelm’s winter woodpeckers: A Hairy woodpecker (below) and its similar but much smaller cousin, a Downy woodpecker (above). The red patches on the backs of their heads indicate that they are both males.
Our day started at 8:00 am, just as daylight was appearing to the east for what promised to be a sunny and warm day without much wind. Perfect conditions! Our route took us around Glenwood Park and then zig-zagging streets and back lanes between Henderson Hwy and Glenwood Crescent. Crossing Hespeler Ave., we checked out the always-productive southern sections of Glenwood Crescent and Elmwood Cemetery. Most birds like mature elm trees so these areas are attractive, and this was especially so where there were feeders and shelter bushes.
What did we see? Well, this year was even more productive than last year. The “regular” birds were nearly all there: Rock pigeons 9 (at Redwood Bridge), Hairy woodpeckers 4, Downy woodpeckers 3, White breasted nuthatches 8, Black-capped chickadees 22, American crows 2, European starlings 8, and House sparrows 48. Which did we miss? We missed the pair of Common ravens which are to be seen most days through the winter as they patrol the whole neighbourhood and are conspicuous by virtue of their loud “honking” calls. By the way, we believe that the large nest at the top of the huge American elm in the centre of Elmwood Park may belong to this pair of birds. If so, it is unfortunate that the tree is scheduled for removal as it bears a red dot on its trunk.
“Regular” birds are fun but perhaps it is the unexpected birds that are “special”. This year we had several of those. At one feeder we saw a Red-breasted nuthatch in town from boreal forests to the north, and at the same feeder were two House finches. These are not usually daily visitors to our community but a small band of them tends to hang around for a few days each year and then mysteriously disappears for a few months. A late season Bald eagle sailed gracefully over Glenwood Park soon after we started the day. We had seen one, and sometimes two, every few days while the river was open, so we were lucky to get one on our count day. Our last and most unexpected bird was a Mourning dove. This bird should have been in an area with a warmer climate by now! It came winging through Glenwood Park in a southerly direction, moments after we had seen the eagle.
Walks in our friendly neighbourhood are always a chance to bump into neighbours, to say “howdee” and catch up on local news, including bird and wildlife sightings. This time we bumped into Tony and compared notes; he was already on his third walking circuit of Glenelm, and also Maureen who pointed out 4 White-tailed deer quietly sheltering in Elmwood Cemetery that we had missed when walked past them a few minutes earlier. As usual, we encountered other mammals too; Eastern cottontail rabbits, Gray and Red Squirrels.
Another Christmas Bird Count completed and we look forward to the same next year. By the way, Elmwood Cemetery might be a good place for an early morning bird walk or two when migration season starts up in May. We will keep in touch!