45 hardy birders conducted the 48th annual Tobermory Christmas Bird Count on December 16th. The format this year was modified to provide for physical distancing – birding parties received breakfast sandwiches and bags of tasty snacks off-site.
By Michael Butler and Tricia Robins

Results of the 48th Tobermory Christmas Bird Count, December 16th, 2020.

On December 16th, 45 hardy birders fanned out across northernmost Bruce County to conduct the 48th annual Tobermory Christmas Bird Count. Light snow cover and mild temperatures (-7˚ to -4˚ C) contributed to a productive and enjoyable experience. The format this year was modified to provide for physical distancing between household groups and, rather than gathering for breakfast at the Parks Canada Visitors Centre this year, the birding parties received breakfast sandwiches and bags of tasty snacks off-site.

The final group tabulation, done over a video call later in the evening, resulted in a tally of 1,105 individual birds (average is 1,613) of 42 species (average is 40). 

A highlight was a count-first Golden Eagle seen flying near Driftwood Cove. Also notable was a new record high of 56 Common Mergansers (average is 9). Wild Turkeys have been observed every year since first detected in 2008. This year’s count of 49 nearly doubled the previous high. Two each of Great Blue Heron and White-crowned Sparrow tied the highs for these species logged in 1997 and 1977, respectively.

Southern Ontario, including our area, experienced an unprecedented flight of the much-loved Evening Grosbeak this fall but none remained to be seen on the count. Other so-called “winter finches” were noted, among them 12 Pine Grosbeaks and 50 Common Redpolls.

Additional species that were missed on the day of the count, but seen within the count week period, included a Long-tailed Duck in Little Tub, a Common Loon in Big Tub, a Snowy Owl in Corisande Bay, a flock of Bohemian Waxwings at the Golf Course and an American Robin on Big Tub Road.

We’d like to thank everyone who came out for the count. Sheila Peacock, with help from Joel McFarlane, did a terrific job assembling and distributing the breakfast and snack packages. As always, we’d like to thank Parks Canada for covering the cost of the hospitality.

The 49th Tobermory Christmas Bird Count will take place on Wednesday, December 15th, 2021.

We wish you an excellent holiday and a happy 2021.