A mild December and an unfrozen lake led to plenty of birds being around when local naturalists gathered to count them just before Christmas.
The Shuswap Naturalist Club put on their annual bird count on Dec. 20 2020. Club representative Ted Hillary said birds from 81 different species were spotted, well above the average of 75 species from previous counts.
Hillary said 35 volunteers from the club counted birds between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. over a wide area centered on Salmon Arm but reaching as far as Sunnybrae, Annis Bay and Grindrod.
According to Hillary, there were no species the naturalists were surprised to spot but numbers were strong across the board.
Those numbers included 725 goldfinches and more than 900 pigeons and starlings were also recorded. Hillary said the most prominent birds were migratory waterfowl; 2312 Canada geese and 2042 mallard ducks were seen. The number of geese spotted was a record-high number for the naturalists’ annual count.
Hillary attributed the high number of birds to a mild fall, little snow on the ground on the day of the count and an unfrozen Shuswap Lake.
Other highlights included a cooper’s hawk spotted catching a squirrel, a peregrine falcon and a pygmy owl which was keeping a close eye on the bird counters.