The seventeenth annual Christmas bird count was held in Orillia on December 20, 1997 (one day before the shortest day of the year). Thirty five eager observers divided among eight parties spent the day in the field between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. counting species of birds and mammals within the Orillia count circle.

The day was overcast with a light morning snowfall leaving .2 cm. of snow cover. The day started out at ­ ­5.00C. and with winds from the south at 25 km/hr. and by noon the temperature had reached 00C. and the winds in the morning were 25 km/hr. from due north and then dropped to 18 km/hr. from the northwest. This did not caused white caps or large crests on the open water so the water birds were spread out in small groups. Common goldeneyes and common mergansers and great black­backed gulls were lined on the ice by the narrows in Lake Couchiching. Most of Lake Couchiching was covered with ice but Lake Simcoe was mostly open water.

A total of 53 species were observed with ties the all time high set in 1993. New birds for the count were a winter wren, a merlin, and red crossbills. An immature bald eagle was seen on the Lake Simcoe side of the narrows. It was a record year for common redpolls with large flocks reported at feeders but American goldfinch numbers were very low this year.


Group 1 ­ William Zufelt, Harry & Valerie Connor, Larry Watson
Group 2 ­ Bob Bowles, Paul & Joan Leeson, Judy Randall
Group 3 ­ Luke Irwin, Wendy Hutchings, Ron & Sharon Hancock, (Bill & Coleen Darling)
Group 4­ Pat & Jim Woodford, Greg Sadowski
Group 5 ­ David & Julie Hawke, (feeders ­ June Williams, Matt Valk)
Group 6 ­ Ron Reid, Janet Grand, Judi Probst, Harold & Ann Cotton
Group 7 ­ Adam Thomson, Barbara Ryckman, David Nesbitt
Group 8 ­ Nancy Ironside, Margo Holt, Jeanie Sanders, Heather Ewing, Bill Darker, (John Ewing, Marlene Bulas, Stan Splichal)

The 35 observers plus 2 feeder watchers reported a total of 8,673 individual birds and a total of 53 species. They spent a total of 60.0 hours in the field (50.0 by car and 10.0 on foot) and covered a distance of 808 km. (790.0 by car and 18.0 on foot).

The day ended with a delicious pot luck supper at Regent Park United Church shared with friends and fellow birders. What a great way to end the day. Many thanks to all who participated in any way this year. I hope everyone had fun and next year we will try to set a new record.

Bob Bowles

Click here to see the complete species list and numbers