By Robert Parsons
The 2020/21 Christmas Bird Count was perhaps most memorable for response to the coronavirus. Three counts were canceled for health and safety concerns, while most of the remainder imposed limits on participants. While this resulted in fewer hours of observation for many counts, a few fielded their usual number of field parties (although often reduced size of parties) and some had high totals of species, if not of individual birds.
Above: Pine Grosbeak (Photo: Linda Boys)
Weather may have been somewhat of a factor in the counts—where mentioned, it was mostly pleasant. By my publication deadline, 15 counts had reported, with probably three more in the pipeline. Thank you to those compilers who reported their counts in a timely manner, as it makes this much easier to summarize. Because of reduced count effort, and the tardy count results the summary will be briefer than usual.
Above: Dark-eyed Junco (Photo: Linda boys)
Winnipeg, as usual, led the species count at 49, nine higher than last year.
At publication deadline, the species total was 74 species and one hybrid on count day, with five additional species recorded as count week only (seen on at least one of the three days preceding or following the count, but missed on count day itself).
Above: Northern Cardinal (Photo: Elizabeth Crust)
Some of the more unusual waterfowl species included an American Black Duck, three Buffleheads and a Common Merganser at Winnipeg, and single Common Goldeneyes at Pinawa & Winnipeg.
The Pas had the only Spruce Grouse, but found three of them.
A Great Blue Heron was at Winnipeg, a first for them.
A Sharp-shinned Hawk was recorded in count week at Portage la Prairie.
Winnipeg had the only Eastern Screech-Owls, a total of three. Snowy Owls were scarce, recorded on only two counts, with singles at Delta Marsh and Portage. A Barred Owl was found on count week at Winnipeg. Great Gray Owls were found on three counts, Dauphin (with two), Hodgson & Pinawa (with five). A Boreal Owl was found on count week at Riding Mountain.
Above: Pair of Pileated Woodpeckers at Winnipeg CBC (Photo: Garry Budyk)
Red-bellied Woodpeckers put on a strong showing, with four counts reporting them, including three at Winnipeg and singles at Balmoral, Morden and Portage.
Above: Gryfalcon at Hodgson CBC (Photo: Joanne Smith)
Winnipeg had the only Merlins (with three) and a Gyrfalcon was seen at Hodgson.
A Carolina Wren was at a feeder in Winnipeg, and remained through much of the winter.
A Hermit Thrush was reported at Winnipeg. Varied Thrushes were seen on three counts, with singles at Delta Marsh, Pinawa and Winnipeg.
A Brown Thrasher was on the Pinawa CBC, frequenting the same feeder as the Varied Thrush.
Above: Varied Thrush & Brown Thrasher near Pinawa (Photo: Linda Huisman)
Cedar Waxwings were a little more numerous than usual, and outnumbered Bohemians on a few counts, although the latter were more numerous overall.
An American Tree Sparrow was a count week record at The Pas. Other Sparrows included a Chipping Sparrow in Winnipeg, a White-crowned Sparrow at Gimli, a Song Sparrow at Delta Marsh and a Harris’s Sparrow in Winnipeg.
Above: Chipping Sparrow at Winnipeg CBC (Photo: John Gartner)
Purple Finches were all but absent, with a count week record at Winnipeg being the only one reported by my deadline.
Finally, at least one of the House x Eurasian Tree Sparrow hybrids continue to frequent the Winnipeg feeder where their parent resided for several years, and one was recorded on the count.
All Manitoba CBCs can be viewed on the National Audubon Society website. Thank you to all compilers and everyone who took part. Maybe next year will see a more usual count.