Christmas Bird Count

The first Christmas Bird Count was held on Christmas Day in 1900 in New York City. Now, about 60,000 people participate annually in over 2000 different Christmas Bird Counts held throughout North and South America. The data collected are used to analyze changes in bird numbers. For example, Audubon’s 2009 report explores the impact of climate change on bird populations across the continent. The Woodstock Christmas Bird Count has been held in mid-December every year since 1934. You can download an excel summary of our results below.

The 88th annual Woodstock Christmas Bird Count was held on December 26th, 2021. Despite covid, we managed to assemble 28 field observers and 2 feeder watchers who together reported 50,382 birds of 67 species. Five high counts were recorded: Tundra Swan (20, previous high count 7), Lesser Black-backed Gull (2, previous high 1), Northern Saw-whet Owl (2, previous high 1), Pileated Woodpecker (9, previous high 6) and White-throated Sparrow (38, previous high 28)).  The weather on count day was excellent for birding with low winds and no precipitation. The count week Eastern Phoebe found by Scott Gillingwater was our rarest bird and new for the count. Birds recorded on 12 or fewer counts included: Tundra Swan (4th count), Green-winged Teal (11th count, lingering group of 4 birds), Sandhill Crane (9th count, now annual), Iceland Gull (eighth count), Lesser Black-backed Gull (fifth count), Glaucous Gull (sixth count), Snowy Owl (count week, seen on 3 previous counts), Northern Saw-whet Owl (third count), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (fifth count), Common Raven (third count), Carolina Wren (tenth count), Common Yellowthroat (third count), Yellow-rumped Warbler (fifth count), Chipping Sparrow (fifth count), Rusty Blackbird (eighth count).

The photo of the Northern Cardinal below was taken by Alexander Skevington in 2020. Last year our high cardinal count (239!) was part of a pattern with cardinals in high numbers through the south and popping up all across the north (lots of records north of Lake Superior way beyond their normal range). This year numbers are back closer to normal here in Woodstock (still the second highest count ever at 92). These kinds of findings are what make the Christmas Bird Counts so interesting. What caused this one year spike? Will the pattern be repeated? Is Woodstock typical of other counts done in 2022? To explore the count data, go to the Audubon data portal.

Northern Cardinal Alexander Skevington.j

The 2022 Christmas Bird Count will likely be held on December 17th. Contact Jeff Skevington for details (jhskevington@gmail.com; 613-720-2862).

The data for the Woodstock Christmas Bird Counts from 1934-2021 are available below in excel format. Just click to download.

Photos below are from various counts. Clockwise from top: Sandhills Cranes and Canada Geese, Chipping Sparrow (2021), Harris's Sparrow (2015) and Western Meadowlark (2016).

Below is a map of our count area along with the different count sectors