The 105th Ottawa-Gatineau CBC was held December 17, 2023. Temperatures ranged from minus 1.5 to plus 4.5 degrees Celsius, with cloudy skies throughout the day. Except for one cold snap, temperatures were mild leading up to the count; however, with the rivers being so open, water birds weren’t all forced into the count circle area as is the case in most years.

161 field observers plus 32 feeder watchers found 77 species and a record high 54,598 individual birds. Highlights included a first record for Western Tanager, a second record for Wood Thrush, and a fifth record for Red-shouldered Hawk. Other highlights included Cackling Goose, Green-winged Teal, 2 Harlequin Ducks, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Double-crested Cormorant, Northern Goshawk (this used not to be a highlight bird), Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, and 2 Red Crossbills.

As usual, the most abundant bird was American Crow producing a record-high roost count of 31,602. Thanks to Aaron Hywarren, Jamie Spence, and Marcel Gahbauer for their efforts counting crows

Feeder birds beware because record highs were set for both Cooper’s Hawk (23) and Merlin (9). Record highs were also set for Bufflehead (20), Winter Wren (3), American Goldfinch (1,604), Dark-eyed Junco (980), and Norther Cardinal (829). Common Raven (160) fell just four short of a record. There were 11 Red-tailed Hawks observed but Rough-legged Hawk was completely absent for the second year in a row. Both waxwings and winter finches were in scarce supply.

There appears to a continuing trend of small numbers of certain species such as Northern Flicker, Winter Wren, and Hermit thrush attempting (often successfully) to overwinter. In the past, these were all very rare in the winter. Our Carolina Wren population is doing well too with six found on the count (one short of a record), and several others during the count period

Snowy Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-winged Blackbird and Rusty Blackbird were observed during the count week but not on the count day itself.

For complete detailed results visit 2023 Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count

The Ottawa-Gatineau Christmas Bird Count is a joint effort of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club (OFNC) and the Club des ornithologues de l’Outaouais (COO). My thanks to the participants, the sector leaders, and especially my co-compiler, Daniel Toussaint of the COO.

Bernie Ladouceur