Results from the Nova Scotia Great Backyard Bird Count

  • <p>JAMES HIRTLE PHOTO</p><p>A white-breasted nuthatch having a feed in Mahone Bay March 5.</p>
  • <p>JAMES HIRTLE PHOTO</p><p>A white-winged scoter was discovered in Lunenburg March 5.</p>

Here are the results from the Great Backyard Bird Count held Feb. 17-20.

The number of species by county were: Halifax 107, Yarmouth 90, Kings 84, Lunenburg 78, Cape Breton 70, Pictou 65, Shelburne 65, Annapolis 52, Colchester 47, Hants 47, Richmond 41, Digby 40, Cumberland 34, Guysborough 29, Victoria 28, Antigonish 25, Inverness 25 and Queens 17. Lunenburg County had 51 participants and submitted 200 checklists. I would like to thank all who did participate.

Species of note from Lunenburg County were red-throated loon, killdeer (enough reported across the province to suggest early migration), great blue heron, thick-billed murre, common eider (rare finding across the province this winter with scary low numbers), Barrow's goldeneye, gadwall, ring-necked duck, tufted duck, black-headed gull, savannah sparrow, Cooper's hawk, and red-bellied woodpecker.

Additional, more rare, species found on the count across the province were red-shouldered hawk, grey heron, white-crowned sparrow, common gull, clay-coloured sparrow, northern shrike, American kestrel, wood duck, eastern towhee, rusty blackbird, grey catbird (very hard to find this winter), fox sparrow, winter wren, cackling goose, black-bellied plover (shorebirds rare this winter), Baltimore oriole, 50 common grackles at one location (hard bird to find this winter), yellow-headed blackbird, 20 brown-headed cowbirds (high numbers for one location), ruddy duck, hermit thrush, sanderling and pied-billed grebe. Compared to other winters there were very few warblers seen.

On March 2, Mary Stocks of East LaHave was very lucky in sighting a leucistic American robin. This bird had a snow white breast. While visiting the Lunenburg Harbour on March 3, Kerry Jarvis spotted nine long-tailed ducks. On that same day Gloria Buck in Lunenburg saw a sharp-shinned hawk on the ground in her garden.

I'm going to have to start calling my friend Steven Hiltz of Back Centre the woodpecker whisperer. On March 4 he was able to approach a hairy woodpecker at his suet, which allowed him to stroke the back feathers. Steven mentioned that he had two purple finches on that day that were changing colours into breeding plumage.

Signs of spring are starting to show with common ravens and American crows collecting sticks for nesting. Northern cardinals and song sparrows are calling on territory. Also, white-breasted nuthatches are very active. I had a caller inquire as to how long nuthatches live. The oldest known red-breasted nuthatch was seven years and six months old. As for the white-breasted nuthatch, one has been recorded at nine years and nine months. Eight years or less would be usual.

Elizabeth Bell reported a wood duck at Sunnybrook on March 4. At that point this attractive male had been around for two weeks. In Green Bay, Terry Durnavich sighted a red-tailed hawk eyeing the birds at her feeder. Terry originally saw the hawk in the tree top from the reflection on her glass topped coffee table.

On March 5, I saw that the red-bellied woodpecker was still present in Mahone Bay. Robert Keereweer saw one in Chester also. On the same day, Steve O'Grady of Mahone Bay had an American wigeon gather with mallards on his lawn. Barbara McLean of Lunenburg had three northern flickers at her suet feeder at the same time. Eric Mills spotted a glaucous gull on the Lunenburg waterfront. Eric reported that this species is just starting to show up in the province now. Normally we would expect them December to January.

Elsewhere in the province, on March 1, Jason Dain sighted 16 Barrow's goldeneyes in Bedford. Johnny Nickerson had a rusty blackbird on Cape Sable Island. On March 2, Mark Dennis reported 12 brant, good numbers of dunlins and sanderlings and one black-bellied plover and a ruddy turnstone along the Fish Plant Road at the Hawk on Cape Sable Island. On that day Angela MacDonald saw a redhead at the Antigonish Sewage Lagoons. Two brant were reported in Eastern passage by Natalie-Barkhouse Bishop.

On March 3, Natalie-Barkhouse Bishop saw a dunlin at McCormack's Beach in Eastern Passage. At Milton in Yarmouth, Kathleen MacAulay found some redheads. Ronnie d'Entremont, on that day, located a killdeer at Pond Road in Pubnico. A snow goose was seen at the Milton Dam in Yarmouth by Mark Dennis. On March 5 Ervin Olsen located a white-crowned sparrow along Church Street in Yarmouth. On that same day Angela Thibodeau saw a little gull at Herring Cove. Eastern bluebirds and a red-shouldered hawk continue to be seen in Yarmouth.

You may reach me at (902) 693-2174 or email jrhbirder@hotmail.com

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