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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top Ten 2010

Are you ready? Project FeederWatch begins Saturday. If you haven't already signed up, there's still time to do so on-line through the Bird Studies Canada website.

Why participate? Because it's an enjoyable way to contribute to our growing understanding of the lives of birds, especially as climate change continues to affect populations in both devastating and sometimes surprising ways. The data submitted by feeder-watchers tells the scientists at BSC and Cornell about irruptive migrations, range shifts, invasive species, and population trends. Citizen Science data from the 2010-2011 Project FeederWatch program identified, for example, the "Top Ten Birds" in the Pacific Northwest last year. Care to hazard a guess?

If you guessed, in this order: Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Flicker, Black-capped Chickadee, House Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Downy Woodpecker, Song Sparrow, Pine Siskin, and Steller's Jay - you were right!

Dark-eyed Junco: Numero Uno

Northern Flicker: Number 2

House Finch: Number 4

How does this list compare with your backyard bird population? One difference will certainly be that Black-capped Chickadees, which reside mainly on Vancouver Island and the coast, will be replaced by the Chestnut-backed Chickadees that live here on Gabriola. In our back yard these fearless chattering little bundles of energy are second in number only to Dark-eyed Juncos.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee - common on the Gulf Islands: Number 15!

Speaking of Feeders!
As winter seems to be truly settling in to stay (and many Gabriolans are following the birds that have already migrated to Mexico and other climes south of the border) those of us who are staying put (like the Dark-eyed Juncos and Chestnut-backed Chickadees and even a few Anna's Hummingbirds) need to be vigilant about keeping our feeders CLEAN. Moldy seed and contaminated bird poop can cause disease and death. So clean out the feeders regularly. A solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water will do the job. Just be sure to RINSE well.

Keep your feeders clean!

Happy birding!


Nick said...

I'd be interested in bird feeder counts from Gabriola alone. It is a small island, but there are nevertheless distinct microclimates and environments. Any chance of having a Gabriola-only extract of the counts with locations?

Sharon said...

Nick - The Christmas Bird Count is tomorrow, the 28th, so it should be possible to get a breakdown of Gabriola counts with locations soon. I'll post the information as soon as I get it. Thanks for asking!

Nick said...

Would be interesting. Towhee's for example are very common down on the False Narrows side. Wonder if that's true everywhere.

Sharon said...

Nick - I've posted the Gabriola-only results. Although there is too much info for a blog post, the data does tell us approximately where the various species were counted. Towhees, for example, were seen everywhere except Area "A", a strip of land running from Descanso Bay southeast to the village. I didn't realize until recently that only the north end of the island is counted, so we don't have a true "island" count. But if you want to see the data with locations I'm happy to email it to you. Just email me at

Wesley G. said...

Black-capped Chickadees have never been confirmed on Vancouver Island, although several sightings occur they were not validated.
Vancouver Island only has Chestnut-backed Chickadees, but Mountain Chickadees have been seen rarely.

Wesley Greentree,
Campbell River, BC
Young birder

Sharon said...

Thanks for the clarification Wesley!