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Nunavut bird count completed
Holiday stock-taking sees more ravens than last year

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Friday, January 11, 2013

More ravens were spotted than last year in the three Nunavut communities participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count.

NNSL photo/graphic

Ravens topped the annual Christmas Bird Count done in three Nunavut communities between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5. - photo courtesy of Clare Kines

The Christmas Bird Count takes place in more than 2,000 communities across North America between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5. Bird Studies Canada and the Audubon Society partner to co-ordinate the counts. The annual event is in its 113th edition.

Arctic Bay's Clare Kines and his son recorded 269 common ravens during the two-hour count on Jan. 5 around the community, by the landfill and towards Nanisivik.

"Those wouldn't be unusual numbers. We didn't find any of our other target species but that was fine. I didn't really expect to this year. It's the nature of the beast up here. You're going to see ravens," he said. "Everything else is kind of hit and miss. I haven't seen a red poll since November. They'll be around someplace but where they're holding out is hard to say."

During the previous bird count, Kines counted a record three species 142 ravens, five rock ptarmigan and 11 hoary redpoll. He said the bird count is important for expanding knowledge of the feathered-animals in the North.

In the Kivalliq, Mike Beauregard in Arviat and another approximate five volunteers counted 32 common ravens, two common redpolls and two house sparrows as well as a lone willow ptarmigan on Dec. 16. Seeing redpolls during the Christmas season is unusual, explained Beauregard, as the birds have usually travelled south by that time.

"It's the late migrants that are out of the ordinary. This year, we had a pair of redpolls come through on count day," he said. "Last year, during count week, we had a pair of snow buntings. These are late migrants coming from further north at Christmas time when it's really cold and snowy out."

During the previous count, Beauregard had spotted 26 common ravens, three rock ptarmigans and three willow ptarmigans.

The birds were spotted around the community or by the landfill.

"For a winter bird count at 30 below, it went very well," said Beauregard, who is in his second year participating in the count. "I think it's a very good thing to participate and the people of Arviat are starting to come on board as well."

Moving north along the Hudson Bay coast, in Rankin Inlet, Brian Zawadski counted 176 common ravens and one hoary redpoll on Dec. 16. The number of common ravens is flagged as a high count. Last count, Zawadski recorded 84 common ravens in Rankin Inlet.

Zawadski said he was unsure why more ravens were seen.

"It can vary quite a bit year to year. If there was 300 or 400 (ravens), I would think I'd be surprised. It's not a huge increase from previous years," he said "It's noted as a high count probably just because historically it's the highest number in the last 10 years or so. I'm not surprised by it."

As for redpolls, he added sometimes they see them, sometimes they don't.

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