The 122nd Christmas Bird Count in Quebec

The 122nd Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was successful in Quebec this year. Indeed, there are five species more than the average of the last five counts. A total of 140 species plus two species of domestic origin (Mallard [domestic type] and Ring-necked Pheasant) and a hybrid Black Duck X Mallard were observed on count day. This total is divided into 49 aquatic species (35% of all species), 24 raptors (diurnal and nocturnal; 17%), and 67 terrestrial birds (grouse, woodpeckers, passerines; 48%). Although the temperatures of November (18th hottest November in 102 years of observations in Quebec) and December (25th hottest December) were above the monthly average, several bodies of water were covered in ice on census days. Snow cover was below normal for most of Quebec, except for Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Haute-Mauricie. Finally, the temperature on count day was favorable in several regions.

Thirty-five counts took place in Quebec, which is below the average (41) of recent years. The counts were held from December 14th to January 4th. The most popular day was December 18th with 18 counts, followed by December 19th and 28th with four respectively. A total of 1144 people took part in the counts, a slight drop compared to previous years, explained by the decrease in the number of counts. The CBC of Quebec had the highest number of observers (160), followed by Lennoxville (86), Montreal (85), and Chicoutimi-Jonquière (72).

Bird species observed in Quebec counts totaled an impressive 345,451 individuals (about 35,000 less than last year). Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu again ranked first with 62,206 birds, mainly due to the presence of Snow Goose (17,000) and American Crow (37,900), followed by St-Timothée (38,196) with 26,028 Snow Geese, and Lennoxville with 35,946 birds (including 28,000 American Crows). Otterburn Park (30,398), Granby (24,864), Quebec (21,170), Longueuil (19,753), Montreal (17,016), and Hudson (10,225) are the other counts to exceed 10,000 birds mark. The CBC of Quebec had the highest number of species (77), followed by Montreal (74), Hudson (70), Otterburn Park (65), and Longueuil (63).

Five species have been reported in all count areas: Downy Woodpecker, American Crow, Common Raven, Blue Jay, and Black-capped Chickadee. Hairy Woodpecker and American Goldfinch were noted on 34 CBCs. The total number of individuals by species, identified in the 35 RON, which exceeds 10,000 are: American Crow with 97,344 (the majority of which in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Lennoxville, and Granby), Canada Goose (44,114), Snow Goose (43,199), European Starling (29,376), Rock Pigeon (16,397), and Black-capped Chickadee (15,714). It is interesting to note that for northern passerines, the numbers fall between the bad and the best years: Bohemian Waxwing (875), Pine Grosbeak (408), Common Redpoll (5812), Evening Grosbeak (1693), and Snow Bunting (4873). Note that Dark-eyed Junco is approaching the years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 (more than 6000 individuals) with the number of 5690.

Among species threatened or vulnerable or likely to be designated as such, we note 63 Harlequin Ducks (Forillon, Laval-Ahuntsic, and Tadoussac) and 916 Barrow's Goldeneyes (distributed in 7 CBC). The Bald Eagle totaled 168 individuals distributed in 29 CBCs, while the Peregrine Falcon (12 individuals) was reported in 10 CBCs. The Short-eared Owl (2 individuals) in Longueuil, Golden Eagle (2) in Quyon-Shawville and St-Timothée and Rusty Blackbird (3) in Neuville and Baie-Comeau are the other species identified.

In terms of rare species (in general or for the season), note the following species observed on count day: Greater White-fronted goose (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu), Greater Shearwater (Forillon), Green Heron (Montreal), American Coot (Longueuil), Swainson's Thrush (Quebec), Gray Catbird (Quebec), Pine Warbler (Montreal), Lark Sparrow (Percé), Swamp Sparrow (Montreal), Eastern Towhee (Chicoutimi-Jonquière), and Baltimore Oriole (Quebec).

Finally, let us mention species that are not often reported during counts (census day): Cackling Goose (Otterburn Park), Northern Shoveler (Drummondville), Ring-necked Duck (Otterburn Park), King Eider (Percé), Sharp-tailed Grouse (Parc Aiguebelle), Red-throated Loon (Percé), Northern Gannet (Forillon), Turkey Vulture (Longueuil and Otterburn Park), Purple Sandpiper (Neuville and Tadoussac), Razorbill (Percé), Dovekie (Forillon and Percé ), Lesser Black-backed Gull (Lac-Brome), Northern Hawk Owl (Tadoussac), Long-eared Owl (Longueuil), and Yellow-rumped Warbler (Montreal).