2018 Nature Moncton CBC

   The 58th Nature Moncton CBC was held on Saturday December 15 last.

First the general conditions and numbers: Temperatures were not bad for

the middle of December hovering around +3°C under mostly clear sky.

Winds were a bit high around 20 km from the West (bringing temps under the 0 mark).

Snow cover was moderate at around 15 cm permitting access to most spots. But standing water and most running streams were frozen (with some running water in small streams). So there were fewer places where water birds could be looked for and the prolonged cold spell for some time before the count surely limited the possibilities for some species to hang around. In this category only one lonely Canada goose was found where the average is 26 and in 2017 we had 667. 

   Finally it looks like the lack of snow cover or notable storm activity in early December kept the flocking behavior down and so the feeder counts lower than we would have wished. All of that conspired to make 2018 a relatively low year for numbers with 48 species on count day (average 52 in last 10 years). 3 more species were added for count week (see complete list below).  Still, all in all it was reasonable winter weather to be out and about the Moncton circle looking for birds and 29 of us (about average) participated in the field while only 3 more (very low) counted at feeders. This is a low point for watchers at feeder and one on which we should work hard in coming years. Point in case, this year feeders managed to add 3 species during count week (Common Grackle, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Sharp-shinned Hawk) and so should be worked on for count day in the future. So while a big THANK YOU is in order for all participants, more help would be needed for next year, in particular at feeders. Globally, that effort resulted in 11,882 individual birds so about average for the last decade.

   Some of the highlights, species wise, were not one but two lingering Great blue Herons (one along both side of the river) a species only reported 3 times before in the previous 57 years, an astonishing 4 Marsh Wrens (also only reported 3 times before) and finally a sighting # 5 of Cooper’s Hawk that will soon join our “seen more than 5 time club” to be added to the regular list next year. Other highlights on the numbers front were Bald Eagles who continued their ascending trend to reach one more record breaking score of 113 this year (pretty well a steady ascent since first reported in 1981).  The same was true for Red-tailed hawk who with 11 broke all previous records. Gulls again gave an interesting picture this year. For instance, Herrings gulls at 1641 were quite low while surprisingly Great Black-backed at 1874 were rather high. More intriguing is the fact that Great Black-backed were higher in numbers than Herring something that has happened only 3 more times in the last 20 years.  

   Some of this could be weather or effort related but also I would wager that changing food accessibility and general trends are also at play. Continuing with the + column one offs for Northern Shrike (a good year for those) and Northern Cardinal was nice (only # 4 in last 10 years). Also at 11 White-throated Sparrows were quite high at 11 and only second ever to 1980 when a amazing 22 were reported (average temps were at -22c that year so maybe that brought them in to feeders). Now if we move to the “where were they?” side, sadly a couple of species were missing in action. Ruffed Grouse is “normally” reported and are surely present. This is probably and other place were low feeder reports hurt us. Again no night owls were found which is surely directly because of lack of effort at night. Now come on people 8 hours out in sub zero weather is nothing. Just keep birding. Sadly our newly renamed Canada Jay was not found as was the case much more sadly for Boreal Chickadee which as now been absent from our CBC for 11 years. 

So that was the count for 2018. As always hoped for, some surprises, several interesting statistics, some sobering points but all in all good birding in good company, lots of fun and still more data added to help our understanding of bird presences in winter.  Thanks to all that participated in the field or at feeders and hope to see you all again next year.


List of birds seen on the 58th Moncton CBC
Saturday December 15th 2018
Those colored in red are those not seen more than 5 times
on our CBC since it’s start in 1961.


Species seen on count day   # of individuals

Great Blue Heron                  1

American Black Duck            26

Mallard                                   1405

Common Merganser             14

Bald Eagle                              113

Cooper's Hawk                      1

Northern Goshawk               1

Red-tailed Hawk                    11

Rough-legged Hawk              1

Ring-necked Pheasant          62

Ring-billed Gull                      3

Herring Gull                           1641

Iceland Gull                            349

Glaucous Gull                         4

Great Black-backed Gull       1873

Rock Dove                              475

Mourning Dove                     210

Downy Woodpecker             24

Hairy Woodpecker               28

Pileated Woodpecker           2

Northern Shrike                    1

Blue Jay                                  134

American Crow                     1061

Common Raven                     53

Black-capped Chickadee       596

Red-breasted Nuthatch        75

White-breasted Nuthatch     1

Brown Creeper                     5

Marsh Wren                          4

Golden-crowned Kinglet      7

American Robin                    21

Northern Mockingbird         3

European Starling                 3095

Bohemian Waxwing              34

Northern Cardinal                1

American Tree Sparrow      14

Song Sparrow                        11

Swamp Sparrow                    3

White-throated Sparrow      11

Dark-eyed Junco                   35

Snow Bunting                        101

Pine Grosbeak                       26

House Finch                           23

Pine Siskin                              59

American Goldfinch              220

 Evening Grosbeak                22

House Sparrow                     30

Total # of species                  48

Total # of individuals           11895

Species not seen on count day but only on
count week (3 days before or after count day)

Sharp-shinned Hawk            1

Red-bellied Woodpecker     1

Common Grackle                   1