The Gravenhurst-Bracebridge Audubon Christmas Bird
Count was held on December 21 with 34 observers in 10 groups covering
the 15 mile diameter circle centred between Gravenhurst and Bracebridge.
The weather was clear and cold, a beautiful day to be out counted
birds, but the birds were hard to find most being clustered around
feeders and few flying elsewhere. The big lakes were ice-free
but a cold snap froze the rivers the night before the count. Wild
food (berries and cones)was scarce this year.
The total species counted was 34 and total individuals
seen 2844. 6 more species were seen in count week (3 days before
and after count day). The previous five year averages for species
and individuals was 37 and 2608 so we had a below normal number
of species but above normal number of individuals. This could
be explained by the increase in number of groups counting this
year and also by the congregation of European Starlings and Herring
Gulls at the Bracebridge Landfill.
The five most common birds this year were: European
Starling, Rock Dove, Black-capped Chickadee, Common Redpoll, and
Herring Gull. Interesting finds this year were a White-throated
Sparrow at a feeder in Gravenhurst, a Red-breasted Merganser on
Lake Muskoka, a Great Black-backed Gull sitting on the iced-over
river in downtown Bracebridge and another at the Gravenhurst Landfill,
and a tail-less Hoary Redpoll(ssp exilipes) at a feeder east of
It was nice to see a good number of Pine Grosbeaks(55)
and Redpolls(259) but other finches were scarce. Evening Grosbeaks
increased this year to 85 from only 2 last year but are still
well below the numbers seen in recent years. The House Finch which
recently invaded Muskoka appears to be declining with only 1 counted.
The House Sparrow decline in Bracebridge which started when the
Muskoka Trading Feed Mill closed is now complete, zero was found
this year but Gravenhurst still had 23. The illusive in winter
Northern Cardinals were missed on count day in both towns this
year despite recent sightings. The most surprising change was
in Downy Woodpecker numbers which were at an all time low of 4
down from the usual 15 to 30.
The team competition between Gravenhurst and Bracebridge
ended in a tie with each seeing 27 species, although Gravenhurst
was initially declared the winner by 1. During the final tally
the Bracebridge team was admonished by Gravenhurst for doubting
their Boreal Owl sighted sitting on a chimney and accused them
of just being jealous. It turned out that the Bracebridge doubts
were well founded when it was discovered the following day that
the Boreal Owl was indeed solid plastic! The Gravenhurst team
leader claimed it was an honest mistake. The intense competition
Thanks to all counters and organisers for making it a great day.
Click here to see the complete species list and numbers