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December 31, 2011

Christmas Bird Count Results 2011

The 38th Algonquin Park Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was held on Friday, 30 December 2011. Conditions for birding were fairly good all day: mostly calm, light snow flurries throughout, and temperatures from minus 13 to minus 6 degrees C. All still water was frozen but there was some open water on the Madawaska River. Snow depth was unusually low (maximum of about 15 centimetres or six inches in the open and less under trees) which allowed observers to cover more area.

A limited cone crop resulted in a very good variety of finches but in relatively low numbers compared to years with a bumper crop. There were many more finches than during the last two winters when cones were virtually nonexistent on nearly all conifers.

Learn more about tree cone crops and Algonquin's winter birds.

Overall Results

  • Total Observers: 82 (second highest ever)
  • Birds per Party Hour: 21 (compared to 4 and 8 on the last two counts)
  • Total Species: 32 (average is 28; highest ever is 34)
  • Total Individuals: 4,977 (average is 4,780)
  • New Species for the Count: none

Noteworthy Species:

  • Wild Turkey: 1 (Sunday Lake Road)
  • Great Horned Owl: 1 (heard in late afternoon on Lookout Trail)
  • Northern Saw-whet Owl: 1 (photographed on Leaf Lake Ski Trail)
  • Winter Wren: 1 (heard at seepage area along old railway between East Boundary and Rock Lake)


  • Pine Grosbeak: 16
  • Purple Finch: 26
  • Red Crossbill: 36
  • White-winged Crossbill: 792
  • Common Redpoll: 567
  • Hoary Redpoll: 1
  • Pine Siskin: 836
  • American Goldfinch: 219
  • Evening Grosbeak: 80 (all at the Visitor Centre feeders)

Notable Missed Species:

  • Spruce Grouse

A big thanks to all those who participated in the count, many of whom travelled a long distance. The work of those who arranged the excellent catered meal for over 100 people, facilitated the electronic tally, and carried out fee payment by credit and debit card is much appreciated.

Ron Tozer
Algonquin Park CBC Compiler

What is the Christmas Bird Count?

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society, with over 100 years of citizen science involvement. It is an early-winter bird census, where thousands of volunteers across the US, Canada and many countries in the Western Hemisphere, go out over a 24 hour period to count birds.

How is the Christmas Bird Count conducted?

Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 24-km diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally—all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. If observers live within a CBC circle, they may arrange in advance to count the birds at their feeders and submit those data to their compiler. All individual CBC’s are conducted in the period from December 14 to January 5 (inclusive dates) each season, and each count is conducted in one calendar day.

Why was the Christmas Bird Count started?

The first CBC was done on Christmas Day of 1900 as an alternative activity to an event called the “side hunt” where people chose sides, then went out and shot as many birds as they could. The group that came in with the largest number of dead birds won the event. Frank Chapman, a famed ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History and the editor of Bird-Lore (which became the publication of the National Association of Audubon Societies when that organization formed in 1905) recognized that declining bird populations could not withstand wanton over-hunting, and proposed to count birds on Christmas Day rather than shoot them.

Is the Christmas Bird Count useful?

Absolutely. The data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists, and interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America.

Related Information


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Special regulations for Algonquin's special fishery.