Christmas Bird Count & New Brunswick Winter Bird List

Birding during the winter months in New Brunswick is quite different compared to the other three seasons. The following chart was posted on a birding site one time and sums up what a lot of birders feel throughout the year.

Birders here get quite enthusiastic about the Christmas Bird Count, but if I could, I would also add the Winter Bird List to the chart above.

Since 1996, Gilles Bellieveau has maintained a list of species that are found in New Brunswick during the winter specifically from December 1st to the last day in February. Each list can be found here;

To date there have been 154 species found so far this year and 254 overall since 1996. These totals will go up one species by the end of today however as a Northern Lapwing was found this past week in St.Martins but was just positively ID’ today. This is the third major rarity this winter in NB, the other two being a Barn Owl and a Long-billed Curlew. I posted links below that have a picture of each of the three rarities. I found a rarity on my own a few weeks ago right here in Woodstock. A Canvasback was in the lagoon and stayed just long enough to be included for the Winter Bird List (link to my blog also below). I often get the itch to check more species off my life list so it was nice to find a lifer without even having to leave!



The Christmas Bird Count website for NB can be found here; and is maintained by David Christie. If you were to look under Compilers, you would see my name beside the community of Hartland. For the past few years there hasn’t been one there (it is 15 minutes north of Woodstock) so I convinced three other birders that we should go for it. We decided December 20th would be the main day and you can also keep track of different species found within the count period of December 14th to January 5th.

After seven plus hours of driving, the four of us found 29 different species within a 24 km radius. Before and since the count, another 10 species have been found so we were quite pleased that this brings us up to 39. I have some of the previous data for Hartland and the high was 36 for the day and another 4 found during the period. There are a few species that we could realistically still find and we still have a good week and a half to do so (ex. Ruffed Grouse, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Purple Finch).

The number of different species found and total overall number of individual species vary greatly from every county in the province. Some communities don’t have a count at all and others really could use more volunteers. Ideally for Hartland, I would have split the area up with another two groups of two and put more time into walking some trails. We were pretty tired near the end of the day too because we had a lot of ground to cover with just two vehicles. Hopefully next year we can do some more recruiting!


Here are photo’s of some of the species that I have found in December;

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk – I found two last week!

Pine SiskinPine Siskin – I don’t see a lot around here but we did find two on Saturday

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak –  we were pleased to find two flocks in two different areas (18 in total) for the Hartland CBC


Gadwall – it was out of the ordinary for this duck to still be in Florenceville last week

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler – from the data I do have related to the Woodstock CBC, this is the first time one has been found at any time during the count period for this area

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker – I’ve had one in my yard three times this month!

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow – this is the latest I’ve had one in my yard. It has been a mild December here. I had three one day last week.

American Robin

American Robin – also the latest I’ve seen a robin in the county

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren – still here! It stuck around long enough for the count period and just might be around on the 28th, we’ll see!

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll – they’re back! A flock of 60 or so was in my neighbor’s tree last week

Snow Bunting

Snow Buntings – found my first flock of the winter on the 20th for the Hartland count

Rarities for December

Canvasback – found by me!

Northern Lapwing –

Long-billed Curlew –

Barn Owl –

Tufted Titmouse –


Until next time,

Nathan Staples

About Nathan Staples

I am a public school teacher who has always lived in New Brunswick. My wife and I have three boys who love to watch birds nearly as much as I do. We currently live in the province's oldest town, Woodstock.
This entry was posted in Bird Canada, Birdwatching Events, Canadian Birds, Citizen Science, Winter Birding in Canada. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Christmas Bird Count & New Brunswick Winter Bird List

  1. Thanks for you comment Gail! I will have to check out that site. Even if someone isn’t that interested in birds, it seems as if the majority of people still take a moment to watch a Bald Eagle soar by. Once my students know I’m into birds, they often will let me know what they are seeing or hearing around where they live.

    That sounds great what your group is doing in St.George. It sounds similar to what we have around here;
    The Meduxnekeag River Association not only has an excellent trail system, but works very hard at conserving land in Carleton County. I’m not originally from Woodstock so I am slowly getting to know others who are interested in birds and nature in the area.

  2. Gail Taylor says:

    Nice blog Nathan and I like the graph also. Puts it all in perspective. You being a public school teacher you might be interested in this wonderful live eagle cam in Blair, Wisconsin at The teacher, Mr. Briggs, and his students raised the money several years ago to set this camera up, and they just upgraded it again for this season. Your class can set up a time to go into the chat when designated for classrooms, and ask the folks from various raptor organizations in the USA question about the bald eagles. It is one of my favorite sites. This year they have two new eagles at the nest. Larry and Lucy were very special to this nest, and she left last Spring, and hasn’t been seen. You must read Lucy’s amazing story of how she has survived after her injury, with one foot and talons and a stub for the other foot. Larry left last fall, and never came back, but we feel he has found a new mate and a new nest. There is a new female and a new young male recently at the nest that are very much a bonded pair as has been seen in the past month, and we look forward to seeing eggs possibly end of Feb, or early March at this nest. Check it out. Kids do wonderful projects too, which makes this site a wonderful part of their curriculum.

    Thanks for all the great photos that you post as I am a new birder in the St. George area, and I am working with Ralph Eldridge, Todd Watts, and Nick Hawkins to regenerate our St. George Marsh with the help from Eastern Charlotte Waterways, Inc. We call ourselves, Friends of the St. George Marsh. Really looking forward to the two new osprey nest platforms that have been designated for the Marsh to be installed by late March before the osprey return from southern migration.

    Happy Birding, Gail Taylor

  3. Kathleen says:

    Nice CBC list and amazing graph detailing excitement! So true.