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January 1, 2018

Christmas Bird Count Results 2017

Seventy-six observers participated in the 44th Algonquin Park Christmas Bird Count (CBC) held on Saturday, December 30, 2017. Weather conditions were good for observing birds, but a little “brisk” at times. Temperatures ranged from -26°C to -17°C, with a mean of -22°C. The southeast wind that reached 10-15 kph occasionally made it cold in the open, but it was calm in the woods. Cloudy skies and periodic very light flurries persisted for most of the day. Snow on the ground was a maximum of about 30 cm and less under conifers, making walking easier than usual. Virtually all water was ice-covered.

Overall Results

  • Total Observers: 76
  • Total Species: 28 (average is 27)
  • Total Individuals: 4,704 (average is 4,579)
  • Birds per Party Hour: 31 (average is 25)

New Species for the Count

  • Merlin: 1

Merlin at the Algonquin Park Christmas Bird Count 2017

Merlin photographed at last light by Nathan Hood on the 2017 Algonquin Park Christmas Bird Count.

High Count

  • Dark-eyed Junco: 185 (previous high: 130)

Low Count

  • Gray Jay: 13 (new lowest count; previous was 15):
  • Boreal Chickadee: 4 (ties lowest)

Notable Miss

  • Barred Owl (not recorded only twice before, including 2016, on 43 previous counts)

Winter Finches

Good variety but numbers were lower than previous years which had a similar huge cone crop.

  • Pine Grosbeak: 9 (scarce, as predicted in Ron Pittway’s Winter Finch Forecast)
  • Purple Finch: 122
  • Red Crossbill: 359
  • White-winged Crossbill: 521
  • Common Redpoll: 66 (apparently just starting to move into southern Ontario)
  • Pine Siskin: 418
  • American Goldfinch: 635
  • Evening Grosbeak: 34 (all at Visitor Centre feeders)

All Species Observed on the 2017 Algonquin Park CBC

  • Northern Goshawk 1
  • Wild Turkey 6
  • Ruffed Grouse 46
  • Spruce Grouse 4
  • Downy Woodpecker 39
  • Hairy Woodpecker 33
  • Black-backed Woodpecker 4
  • Pileated Woodpecker 6
  • Merlin 1
  • Gray Jay 13
  • Blue Jay 182
  • Common Raven 61
  • Black-capped Chickadee 1,101
  • Boreal Chickadee 4
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch 720
  • White-breasted Nuthatch 9
  • Brown Creeper 41
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet 59
  • American Tree Sparrow 24
  • Dark-eyed Junco 185
  • Pine Grosbeak 9
  • Purple Finch 122
  • Red Crossbill 359
  • White-winged Crossbill 521
  • Common Redpoll 66
  • Pine Siskin 418
  • American Goldfinch 635
  • Evening Grosbeak 34
  • Woodpecker sp. 1

  • Total Number of Species 28
  • Total Number of Individuals 4,704
  • Number of Observers 76
  • Number of Hours - Driving 8
  • Number of Hours - Walking 146
  • Number of Hours - Owling 3
  • Total Party Hours 154
  • # of Kilometres - Driving 239
  • # of Kilometres - Walking 189
  • # of Kilometres - Owling 27
  • Total Distance (km) 455
  • Birds Per Party Hour 30.6

Thanks to all the participants and those who helped organize and undertake the count this year.

Ron Tozer
Algonquin Park CBC Compiler

Additional Bird Sightings

Please send us any bird sightings you've had in the park, even of common birds, as they assist us in documenting Algonquin Park's bird life.

Birders reporting records through eBird are encouraged to share their lists with the Algonquin Park Bird Records account (APPbirds).

Christmas Bird Count Circle in Algonquin Park

Bird count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 24 kilometre diameter circle (shown below) and count every bird they see or hear with a 24 hour period. This provides an early winter bird census for Algonquin Park and combines with data from other counts in Canada, the United States, and many other countries. In Algonquin Park, the 24 kilometre circle is centred on the intersection of the Rock Lake Road and Highway 60.

Algonquin Park Christmas Bird Count Circle Map

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 kilometre 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


Reserve your developed or backcountry campsite for your next visit.

Share your passion for Algonquin Park by becoming a member or donor.

Special regulations for Algonquin's special fishery.