The mild Winter may be to blame for the decline in the number of birds counted on the annual Christmas Bird Count the Ashcroft area just before Christmas.
Bohemian waxwings have been a colourful feature of the past six local Counts, but they were noticeably absent this year, even though their favourite berries remained on several mountain ash trees in Ashcroft and Cache Creek.
“The feeders were full, but no birds,” said regional co-ordinator Karl Ricker, shaking his head. He noted that there was plenty of food for the various bird species still clinging to trees and bushes.
Ricker managed to find his waxwings the following day in the Back Valley Road area of Cache Creek, but it was too late to include their numbers in the official Count.
The Counts from across BC and Canada are compiled by Bird Studies Canada who uses the information to map migration patterns. The numbers are also sent on to international groups for a larger picture. Last year Ashcroft made the record books for having the most Cassin’s finches during count day.
Outside of the usual multitude of ravens, mallards, pigeons, sparrows and finches, the small group of birders counted 132 Eurasian Collared Doves, several redpolls, one gray jay and one stellar jay, a great blue heron, only 14 bald eagles – a number that declines every year, two hawks and a kestrel and a pileated woodpecker, which were among the more interesting birds.
Roughly 2,700 birds were recorded, making up 36 species – down from last year’s 40 species.
Ricker also said there was next to no birds at the Cache Creek Landfill, where he normally counts hundreds of ravens, crows and starlings around the open face.