Post #59 of 100

BPQ’s 76th annual Hudson Christmas Bird Count took place Tuesday, December 27th and went off without a hitch despite the previous day’s intense freezing rain that made some roads treacherous and impassable in places. I joined two other birders in a count sector of the Hudson Circle to the north of highway 20, which included the area around the Les Cèdres airport. Unlike the previous week’s Montreal CBC that saw snowy conditions and temperatures of -15 C, this CBC day actually seemed to go far too smoothly!

Granted it was a bit windy, but it was nothing to complain about, temperatures were only around freezing and some of the first birds we saw was a group of robins. Cleats on my boots made walking on icy roads a piece of cake, the cars never veered off the road or got stuck in the snow on one of the day’s more isolated roads we explored.

Better yet, one of the feeders we stopped at in the morning even provided us with great views of a Northern Goshawk that was lurking in a tree to (presumably) chew over which pigeon of a large nearby flock to choose for its next meal. Yet even the pigeons lucked out because, as far as we could tell, the hawk eventually flew off unrewarded.

Interestingly, the Goshawk is a regular visitor according to the friendly homeowner who granted us permission to survey his property. Although an unusual sighting in context of its typical habitat, according to e-Bird, Goshawks have been reported to breed in the area and several other recent sightings have been recorded.

An area of our route during the afternoon that had quite a few bird feeders again made finding birds effortless; in one instance, three houses on a corner all had feeders and clearly the news had traveled through the wild bird community. If we had only visited that one corner for less than 10 minutes that day, we would have netted a dozen species! Of note, an American Tree Sparrow (we only saw two all day) and a lone Purple Finch, once famously described by Roger Tory Peterson as a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice,” made it interesting.

Thanks to my observant birding companion, we also spied an American Kestrel on a lamppost, although it was outside of our sector. It later turned out that the group assigned to that area hadn’t seen any Kestrals during the day anyway so it was counted as ours, bringing the total species count to 21 for our party. Not bad, since we didn’t even have any open water! From a bird trivia perspective, the birds we observed included North America’s smallest Falcon (the Kestral)  largest Accipeter (the Goshawk) largest Woodpecker (the Pileated), and eastern North America’s largest Buteo (the Red-tailed Hawk).

We ended the day at a local St. Hubert’s restaurant to hand in our tally sheets and do a bit of socializing with fellow count participants; thanks to the efforts of our well organized CBC coordinators there was plenty of finger food and wine to round out the day as well! While we eagerly await the final numbers to be tallied for the Hudson Count Circle, it was fun to compare experiences and get a sense of the day’s results for the entire area.

As far as bird numbers are concerned, some groups saw far fewer species than we did and some quite a few more, but one thing remained constant. Everyone appeared to have enjoyed the day in good company doing one of the things we love to do most, observe birds! It also goes to show that despite weather conditions, you never know what you will find flitting about out there! Our Goshawk but one example. Stay tuned for the official Hudson CBC report that will be published in The Song Sparrow at a later date!