New Brunswick’s Christmas Bird Counts

Bohemian Waxwings. Photo by Brian Stone.

New Brunswickers have been participating in the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) since Christmas Day 1900 when William H Moore from Scotch Lake, part of today’s Mactaquac count area, became Canada’s first CBCer.

Fewer than a dozen CBCs took place in New Brunswick over the next 50 years, but in 1956, Austin Squires, curator of the New Brunswick Museum, encouraged New Brunswick naturalists to join other North American naturalists in doing Christmas Bird Counts. Dr. Squires laid out the format for doing a count and within a decade there were counts operating from Île Lamèque to Grand Manan. Perhaps 80 areas have been surveyed at least once, but 40 count areas have at least 30 years of data and 15 count areas have at least a half-century of data.

This long-term environmental dataset – perhaps one of the most extensive and long-term in New Brunswick – is largely credited to David Christie. In the mid-60s, David, volunteering through Nature NB, took on the informal role of compiler for New Brunswick CBCs and for the next 50 years produced a provincial CBC summary which was published by Nature NB.

While today most CBC compilers post their data to the international database operated by Audubon and supported by Birds Canada, Nature NB has been by far the largest publisher of New Brunswick based CBCs. With only 30% of New Brunswick’s almost 2300 CBCs being available through the Audubon database, Nature NB has undertaken to provide access to every known New Brunswick CBC through its website.

Take part in a Christmas Bird Count

The 2022 Christmas Bird Count period ended on January 4th 2023. More than 1000 New Brunswickers participated in what was the 76th year in which at least one CBC was undertaken in New Brunswick. There were 49 counts this year and all posted their results to Audubon, making New Brunswick the province with the third most count areas, after Ontario (113) and British Columbia (77) and just ahead of Alberta (47).

As it has done since 1968, Nature NB will publish all New Brunswick CBC results in the NB Naturalist, with an expected online release date just before the 2023 CBC.

Click the button under this list for details on where and how you can participate in the 2023 CBC. These count areas from 2022 expect to be active again this year:

  • Bathurst
  • Blacks Harbour
  • Bouctouche
  • Cambridge-Narrows
  • Cape Tormentine
  • Caraquet
  • Dalhousie
  • Eastport-Campobello
  • Edmundston
  • Fredericton
  • Fundy National Park
  • Grand Manan
  • Hartland
  • Ile Lameque
  • Ile Miscou
  • Jacquet River
  • Jemseg-Gagetown
  • Kouchibouguac National Park
  • Lepreau
  • Mactaquac
  • Memramcook
  • Minto
  • Miramichi
  • Moncton
  • Mount Carleton
  • New Jersey-Néguac
  • Nictau-Riley Brook
  • Pacquetville
  • Perth-Andover
  • Plaster Rock
  • Quispamsis-Hampton
  • Red Bank-Sunny Corner
  • Restigouche
  • Riverside-Albert
  • Sackville
  • Saint John
  • Saint-Léonard
  • Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska
  • Salisbury
  • Shediac
  • Southeast Upsalquitch
  • Springfield
  • St Andrews
  • St Martins
  • St Stephen
  • Stanley
  • Sussex
  • Tracadie-Sheila
  • Woodstock

Participant Checklist:

New Brunswick Christmas Bird Count Checklist (Word Doc)

New Brunswick Christmas Bird Count Checklist (PDF)

Compiler Checklist:

New Brunswick Christmas Bird Count Compiler Summary Checklist (Word Doc)

New Brunswick Christmas Bird Count Compiler Summary Checklist (PDF)

Published Records of New Brunswick’s Christmas Bird Counts

Note: Accessing these published records is best managed with the Finding Tool and using the directions in the next section.

Bird Lore, a predecessor publication to Audubon, 1900 to 1940

  • Count data from across North America for 1900-1923, 1929, 1933 and 1937 available here.
  • Count data for 1924-1928, 1930-1932 and 1934-1936 are not available online, but were examined at the Royal Ontario Museum in December 2021.
  • 2 NB counts — Scotch Lake, 1900; Kent Island, 1937.

The Canadian Field Naturalist, 1919 to present

  • Count data from across Canada for 1919 to 1959 available here.
  • 15 NB counts — St. Stephen/Deer Island, 1924; Saint John, 1945, 1946, 1957, 1958, 1959; Sackville, 1948; Woodstock, 1948; Fredericton, 1952, 1959; Riverview Heights, 1956, 1957; Port Elgin, 1957, 1958; Welsford-Bailey, 1958.

Audubon Field Notes, 1940 to 1971, then American Birds

  • Count data from across Canada for 1940 to present available here.
  • 6 NB counts — Memramcook, 1949; Moncton-Shediac, 1958, 1959; Woodstock, 1963; Fundy National Park, 1970; Upper Bay of Fundy (Saint John-Digby ferry), 1976.
  • Up to 1980 only examined; all counts appear to be on the Audubon database

Nature News, 1950 to 1969

  • Count data from New Brunswick counts for 1956 to 1968 available here.
  • 124 NB counts — 24 count areas from Grand Falls to Sackville and Lamèque to Grand Manan.

NB Naturalist, 1969 to present

  • Count data from New Brunswick counts for 1969 to present available here.
  • 2000-plus NB counts — more than 70 count areas have been surveyed; usually 45-50 counts per year.

Audubon, 1900 to present

  • Electronic database of North American counts available here.
  • All counts from published sources above are eligible for inclusion in Audubon database; approximately 725 New Brunswick counts (one-third of total) are in the database.
  • 3 NB counts are not included in other published sources — Saint-Léonard, 2008, 2010; Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska, 2010.

Accessing New Brunwick’s Christmas Bird Count Data with Nature NB’s Finding Tool

Finding the results from any of New Brunswick’s 2200 CBCs is a two or three step process depending on whether you are looking for results from a particular count area or year or trying to find all the CBCs that have taken place in a certain area.

Some parts of New Brunswick have been surveyed only a few times — or even just once. Several areas have 40 to 50 years of continuous data. Cape Tormentine, including the 2020 CBC, has 60 years of continuous data that has all been published as well as posted to the free public database at Audubon.

Step One

Use the five CBC dataset profiles above (Bird Lore, Canadian Field Naturalist, etc.) to determine which dataset you wish to examine.

Step Two

Download the Excel-based Finding Tool and go to the appropriate dataset tab at the lower edge of the Finding Tool.

Step Three

Find the count area or year you are interested in and at the top of the column you will see the volume and number or date of the publication where that/those counts can be found. Note that the Audubon database has no issue numbers or dates; the database can be used to explore about 30% of New Brunswick’s CBCs by species, count area or time period independently of the Finding Tool.

Step Four

Leave the Finding Tool and, back to the Published Records section, click on the link to the appropriate dataset and proceed to the appropriate issue of the publication.

Data Commitment: Nature NB is committed to publishing the data from any as yet unpublished CBCs, whether previously unknown or up to now “lost”.

Data Caveat: Like all large datasets, there are likely errors in the data presented here. If you find things that are questionable please let us know. (Even in the data from New Brunswick’s first CBC there is a bust — Wm H Moore reported 36 individuals from 9 species, yet the results add to 34 individuals and 8 species!)

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