The 123rd Christmas Bird Count in British Columbia

A total of 87 Christmas Bird Counts in British Columbia (BC) submitted data for the 123rd (2022-23) count. The most day counts took place on Saturday, December 17th (19), followed by Sunday, December 18th (16), and Tuesday, December 27th (9). Victoria had the most counters in the field (306), followed by Vancouver (151), Galiano-North Salt Spring Island (121), and Pitt Meadows (104). Victoria had the most Feeder Counters (51), followed by Parksville- Quallicum Beach (44), Galiano-North Salt Spring Island (40), and Sydney- South Salt Spring Island (21).

A total of 907,731 individual birds of 251 species were tallied by 2729 field counters and 611 feeder counters. Victoria was the top count with 137 species on count day, an increase of one species over last year.

The top 10 most abundant species in BC, in order of most to least abundant were: Mallard, American Wigeon, European Starling, Dunlin, Canada Goose, Bohemian Waxwing, Dark-eyed Junco, Glaucous-winged Gull, American Robin, and Northern Pintail. The coldest count award goes this year to Logan Lake (-40 Celsius). The warmest count was Savona-Walhachin (18 Celsius).


Species and notes

Mallard (78,094) was again the most abundant waterfowl species reported in BC followed by American Wigeon (67,777), and Canada Goose (43,844). A long staying Tufted Duck was reported in Duncan and a (Eurasian) Green-winged Teal in Jaffray-Wardner. One Dusky Grouse was seen in Oliver- Osoyoos, down from two last year. Sharp-tailed Grouse (50) were located in Merritt, Dawson Creek, and 100 Mile House. Horned Grebe (3006) was the most abundant Grebe species followed by Red-necked Grebe (972), and Western Grebe (850). An American Bittern was a highlight in Pitt Meadows. Victoria recorded the highest Pacific Loon total (349), followed by Parksville-Quallicum Beach (261) and Pender Island (212). Bamfield recorded the only Cassin’s Auklet (2). Dunlin were again the most abundant shorebird (48,425), followed by Black Turnstone (3026), Killdeer (889), and Black-bellied Plover (487) which was a drop of 1314 for this species from last year. Deep Bay had the high count for Black Oystercatcher (220), Pender Islands for Surfbird (363). One Ruddy Turnstone was recorded in Deep Bay. An American Avocet was recorded in Ladner.

Bald Eagles again, were the most abundant raptor with Harrison River’s count of 602 the highest.

Ancient Murrelet (4681) was the most widely reported alcid with the highest count in Pender Harbour. Common Murre (4166) followed closely. Victoria had the highest count for Brandt’s Cormorant (2591). Sooke had the highest count for Double-crested Cormorant (874) as well as Pelagic Cormorant (654).

A total of 283 owls of nine species was another decrease compared to 303 owls of 12 species located during the 122nd count. Only a single Long- eared Owl was reported. No Snowy, Great Gray, Northern Hawk, or Boreal owls were located on count day.

No Gyrfalcons or Prairie Falcons were reported. Merlins topped the category with 150.

High numbers of Western Bluebirds (430) continued in the Okanagan and Mountain Bluebirds (6) were located in Vancouver (2), Oliver-Osoyoos (3), and Greater Masset (1). One Gray Catbird was seen in Vernon. California Scrub-Jays (14) experienced a northward irruption with a high count in Ladner (7). Bohemian Waxwing numbers surged this year to 41,590 up from last year’s number of 33,000.