Guelph’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC)

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Guelph’s 50th Christmas Bird Count took place on Sunday, December 18th, 2016. Over 65 participants working in 13 groups found a total of 13942 birds of 68 species. Although we didn’t see any new species this year, this years’ total is the second highest ever (tied with last year and the year before), the highest being 70 species in 2008. Almost all standing water was frozen, but much moving water was open.

We had no new species for the count, but we had record numbers of 3 species: Red-bellied Woodpecker (19 – previous high 15), American Robin (1200 – previous high 792), and Eastern Bluebird (15 – previous high 5). We tied the record number for the following species: Mute Swan (6, seen at McNally pit), Eastern Towhee (1 at the Arboretum), and Fox Sparrow (1 in Eden Mills). For low numbers, we had: American Kestrel (2), Ruffed Grouse (2), and no Northern Shrike. Winter finches were almost non-existent, with only 2 Pine Siskin and 1 Purple Finch (the latter reported after the tally rally).

Unusual birds seen during the count included: Gadwall (1), Pied-billed Grebe (1), Redhead (1), Lesser Scaup (1), Ring-necked Duck (1), American Coot (1), Carolina Wren (1). The water at McNally pit was open, thereby hosting several of these late ducks and the swans. The next day it was almost entirely iced over, so we held our CBC just in the nick of time!

Thanks to all participants, especially the 13 group leaders, Dave and Margaret Hull for hosting the tally rally, and Wild Birds Unlimited for their support!

About the Christmas Bird Count

Every December, people all over the world participate in a citizen science project called the Christmas Bird Count . The Guelph count takes place in a 24km diameter circle around the city, and is divided into sections. Birders go out in teams to identify and count as many birds as possible in a single day in their section and results are compiled at a “tally rally” at the end of the day. The data is an important contribution to knowledge of wintering bird populations and how they are changing over time. You can find more information on the CBC on Bird Studies Canada’s website at:

People of all levels of experience are welcome to participate in each year’s count!  The CBC is a great way to participate in avian science, and learn a little about the birds that spend their winters here in Guelph. 

Check back in November 2017 for information on the December 2017 Guelph Christmas Bird Count and how to participate.