Bermuda birders spot 83 species in Christmas count
Eagle-eyed bird watchers logged 7,561 individual birds in one day during Bermuda’s 47th annual Christmas Bird Count.
A total of 83 species were seen on the “count day” – Saturday, December 18 – and an additional 12 species were spotted during the “count week” which included three days either side.
Notable birds spotted by this year’s 24 participants of the wildlife survey included a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron at Spittal Pond in Smith’s, a Snow Bunting at Cross Island in Sandys, a Dark-eyed Junco near Fort Victoria in St George’s and a Swainson's Thrush in the dunes behind the south shore beaches.
Also remarkable were the 85 Killdeer seen at the new airport pond. In 2021, four pairs of Killdeer were found to fledge nine chicks at this location marking the first report of Killdeer reproducing in Bermuda.
A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Audubon Society, which organised the study, said: “With the large numbers seen at the Christmas Bird count, we might anticipate that the Killdeer will become a regular part of Bermuda's resident breeding bird population.”
The Christmas Bird Count data is submitted to the National Audubon Society in the United States as part of a study of birds that has been running for 122 years.
The spokeswoman added: “This information is invaluable for researchers studying the state of the world's birds.
“World bird populations are in serious decline. According to a 2019 study published in the journal Science, 2.9 billion breeding adult birds have been lost in the continental US and Canada over the past 50 years. This amounts to almost 30 per cent of the total population.”
The spokeswoman said that the declines highlight the importance of Bermuda’s role as a “life boat” for migratory birds.
Most of the losses come from 12 families including sparrows, blackbirds, warblers, finches and shorebirds, species of which often migrate through Bermuda each year.
The spokeswoman added: “We need to protect and preserve our habitats so they might find suitable open spaces to rest and feed on their long migrations, and for some, a place to stay for the winter.
“We must also ensure their safety while they are here. Loss of habitat to development is a problem for birds all over the world and Bermuda is no exception.
“We should all work to minimise the loss of open spaces and improve habitat by planting native and endemic species.
“Pesticide use should also be carefully controlled and kept to a minimum.
“We also need to address the impact of cats on our bird populations. Our pet cats need to be kept indoors and a concerted effort needs to be made to address our feral cat population.”
She referenced Seven Simple Actions to Help Birds as listed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Anyone wishing to learn more about bird watching and Bermuda's birds can visit the Bermuda Audubon Society website at www.audubon.bm.
The society organises guided bird watching and bird photography walks.