A record year for the Christmas Bird Count

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The 26th Annual Slave Lake Christmas Bird Count looked a little different with the COVID-19 restrictions. Although indoor and outdoor social gatherings were not allowed this year, it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of local birders for this popular event that took place on Saturday, December 19th.

With so many people staying home this year, the 26th Christmas Bird Count had the biggest turnout ever.

A record 34 residents headed out in their family units to enjoy a beautiful winter day or watched their feeder to record overwintering birds in the Slave Lake area as part in the 121st Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count; the longest running citizen science survey in the world!

And of course, this great participation meant more birds were spotted that day!

New records were set, including: most birds, most species, most participants, most new species, plus many species records as well.

Numbers are still being verified, but preliminary results show a record 2,903 birds recorded from 29 different species.

Although the common raven is regularly the number one species thanks to a stop at the M.D. #124 regional landfill, this year they were beat out by all the bohemian waxwings (1,174) busy cleaning off the berries and fruit from local trees right now.

Other top species included: 499 common ravens, 234 black-capped chickadees, and 200 pine grosbeaks.

Although no bald eagles or owls were spotted, there were record numbers of blue jays, black-billed magpies, red-breasted nuthatches, pine grosbeaks, and house sparrows.

Some of the more unusual species found included red crossbills, black-blacked woodpeckers, dark-eyed juncos and the always elusive brown creeper.

New species are always exciting for birders and there were three new species spotted at local feeders: mourning dove, house finch and fox sparrow.

American robins were also found again along Sawridge Creek. Although these species are all migratory and should have left long ago, it is not uncommon to observe some hardy individuals overwintering in Slave Lake during the Christmas Bird Count.

The Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory would like thank everyone who took part in our 26th Annual Slave Lake Christmas Bird Count and we hope to see you next year!

Two bohemian waxwings eating mountain ash berries. With 1,174 spotted, they were the most common species in the 2020 Slave Lake Christmas Bird Count.
The Klassen family look for birds in Slave Lake. People took part in the Slave Lake Christmas Bird Count in family groups or as individuals.

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