The results are in from the 119th Christmas Bird Count.
On Dec. 30, 27 participants fanned out over a 30-kilometre radius spanning Terrace and Thornhill, and noted 47 bird species altogether.
Started in 1900, the count is the longest-running wildlife census in the world, and invites willing bird-watchers to help monitor trends in bird populations in North America.
Bird count compiler Dianne Weismiller says there were high counts for six species in the area. Four species surpassed numbers from previous years, with bird counters noting 22 gadwalls, 52 Barrow’s goldeneye, nine great blue herons and 10 sharp-shinned hawks.
However, numbers of more commonly seen birds in the area was lower than previous years, Weismiller says.
“We suspect that the mild weather has something to do with the lower numbers as many of the birds seem to be using wild food sources rather than feeders,” she says, noting birds normally flock to the feeders in colder conditions.
Although, bird watchers noticed most of the area’s mountain ash trees still had berries on them.
“Normally if they appear in the fall they clean the trees off right away, but this year if you go around town, all the red berries are still on them. It’s quite unusual…we can’t explain that,” she says.
Sightings of bald eagles, crows and ravens have been lower since the landfill sites in Thornhill and Terrace closed. Blackbirds were often seen there as well, but none were spotted this year.
And while numbers overall have decreased, bald eagle sightings were up in residential areas and downtown Terrace.
“There’s about five of them flying around our house in Thornhill, and we never used to see that at all,” Weismiller says.
Overall, Weismiller called the count success — with a few new faces joining the volunteer list this year.
View the full list of results for Terrace and Thornhill on Audubon’s website.