Blackbirds and crows disappearing, chukars hiding

The annual Christmas Bird Count in Ashcroft-Cache Creek turned up a decreasing number of blackbirds.

A Pine grosbeak at a feeder in Cache Creek.

A Pine grosbeak at a feeder in Cache Creek.

The question is, where do all the chukars go during the Christmas Bird Count?

And why can’t the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Bird Count ever get more than 39 species?

“Yep, 39 species again for the fifth time,” said team leader Karl Ricker. “Forty is still eluding us. If we could only run into the chukars, we would have had our 40 species!”

The chukars have since been spotted in the area, but too late for the official count.

“Nonetheless,” he said, “we can’t argue with the new species added to our count – an overdue Great Gray Owl and Pine Grosbeaks, both seen at the Logan Lake and Savona-Walhachin counts.

“The surprise,” said Ricker, “was the redressed Cache Creek Landfill, which left little space for the usual droves of Rock pigeons, ravens and crows. Only the starling count was about normal there.”

Ricker said the other surprise was the “grand disappearance” of the blackbirds, Redwing and Brewers, “which is the case at many other Christmas counts.”

Eight people went out on the annual Ashcroft-Cache Creek Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 23, including Maria Russell Martin, Sonja Matthews and Wendy Coomber from the local area, as well as Bert Parke, Ray Towne and Lookie van der pol from Logan Lake.

The group counts everything within a certain radius and compares it to past years. There were new high counts on Fox Sparrows (14) and Pine Siskins, “but the latter at 183 is rather low compared to elsewhere,” said Ricker.

The group received a tip that a rare species of cardinal had been spotted on the Mesa, but it was not confirmed by the group.

The annual Count will be held again this December.

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