By Dennis “Hoo Ping Crane” Leonard
Since the community got really involved with the Great Backyard Bird Count in 2007, this year had the most discouraging results with the lowest number of participants (22), submitted checklists (83), individual birds (1784), and species (34).
Yet, the average number of birds per checklist was in the mid-range (21.5). Many factors probably affected the count, such as too much snow; a glitch getting an article into The Times beforehand; fewer birds resulting in some people being skunked; no irruption by northern species, and former participants unable to count this year.
The fact that North America has lost about 3 billion birds since 1970 may also be a factor.
With several tied at four lists, 12 local households were in the top ten for checklists entered in the Thompson-Nicola area.
Which species were participants most likely to see? The Black-capped Chickadee followed by Common Raven, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Steller’s Jay, or Northern Flicker in that order as they were reported on the most checklists. The top five for the most individual birds were Black-capped Chickadee (443), Common Raven (336), Red-breasted Nuthatch (136), Mountain Chickadee (133) and Steller’s Jay (78).
A few local comments: first sighting of a Dusky Grouse; most Mountain Chickadee since 2012; White-breasted Nuthatch sighted after near absence for six years; highest number (26) of Canada Jay (Gray) in five years; Evening Grosbeaks seem to be slowly recovering after their disappearance in 2015; lowest number (63) of Dark-Eyed Junco since 2013; and fewer sightings of Common Redpoll and Pine Siskin as they probably stayed home in the north.
The top five countries in order for the number of checklists were the United States, India, Canada, Australia, and Spain. The top five for species were Colombia (1125), Ecuador (1082), Brazil (934), India (919), and Peru (836). Though it had the most checklists, the U.S. slipped to eighth place for species. Canada was 33rd.
Many thanks to the Clearwater Library for promoting the event and providing blank local checklists. Of course, a thanks go to all participants, especially those who tried but were unable to find any birds.
Hoo Ping Crane