Over 150 species counted during Carden Challenge

In Birds, News by couchiching

Our sincere thanks and gratitude to the participants, sponsors and species of the 2017 Carden Challenge!

The 2017 Carden Challenge is in the books, and despite persistent showers, it showed great results:

  • 150 bird species, including 23 warbler species and two bird species new to the Challenge count – Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Bay-breasted Warbler.  Amazing that in its 13th year, the Challenge still seems to discover a few new species each year.


  • Despite the level of coverage and expertise directed to the Carden CBC circle during the Challenge, a surprising number of bird species were seen by only single teams: 15 species in all, including Great Egret, Hooded Merganser, Lesser Scaup, Red-shouldered Hawk, Merlin, Great Horned Owl, Black-bellied Plover, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Bank Swallow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Northern Parula, and Vesper Sparrow.  Most surprising of all given their vocalizations, only one team was able to record Sandhill Crane!


  • Biodiversity teams had a tough day, since grey skies and showers, carrying on from a cool spring, kept butterflies and odonates from flying.  Nonetheless, they turned up several new species including Eastern Redbacked Salamander and Ebony Boghaunter, a species of dragonfly new to Carden.  The Whip-poor-will team also discovered a Five-lined Skink on limestone bedrock; this species is common on open granitic bedrock of the nearby Canadian Shield, but finding one on the Alvar is very unusual.


  • A big thanks to Fowler Construction for once again providing an excellent free lunch for participants, and to the ladies (plus Alec) of the Dalrymple United Church for their terrific wrap-up dinner.  Thanks also to the 45 volunteers who participated in the Challenge, and to the hundreds of donors who generously offered their support.


  • Finally, thank you to author and birder Steve Burrows, who participated as our celebrity birder this year.  Steve is the award-winning author of four murder mystery books, each with a birding theme throughout.


Competitive Birding: The Cardinals, 125 species

Recreational Birding: Pink Flamingos, 114 species

Biodiversity Challenge: The Bruce & the Spruce Moose, 185 points

Teeter-Ass Trophy, for vibrant participation: The Fantastic Fledgings!

Top Fundraising Team: The Couch Potato Chips, $3,617.30!

Top Fundraiser: Mark Bisset, $2,670


Updated Species List – PDF



See photos of the Carden Challenge:
2017 Carden Challenge

Stories, Sightings and the ones that got away!

Recreational Birding:

The Fantastic Fledgings, 62 species

Best: Hummingbirds. We waited and waited, and almost left – but Bella and Reid saw it just in time.

Miss: Olive-sided Flycatcher? Also Wild Turkeys. We screamed to the Turkeys, we sang to the Turkeys…hello Wild Turkeys!! And no Turkeys.

The Cou-cou-cachings, 82 species

Best: Pileated Woodpecker. Dropped out of a tree right in front of us.

Miss: Scarlet Tanager

Pedalling for Nature, 95 species

60 kms covered, and 19 hours on our bikes!

Best: The American Bittern who flew over the road. Or,  the two Black-billed Cuckcoos who sat right in front of us. The highlight was travelling through the “lake” on Alvar rd at 10pm in the dark with headlights on and finding dozens of frogs and toads having a late-night swim. Stay tuned for the video.It was magical.

Miss: Least Flycatcher. Why can’t we find a Least Flycatcher?

The Phalaropes, 110 species


The Pink Flamingos, 114 species

Best: Green Herons, dipping and flying around a wetland

Miss: Sandhill Cranes

Competitive Birding:

The Couch Potato Chips, 103 species

Best: Scarlet Tanager, in the most “mosquitoey” part of the team. It was a team effort. We thought we heard it, but wanted to see it to confirm.

Miss: 6pm hits, and the Green Heron flys overhead.

The Murder Birders, 107 species

Best: Vesper Sparrow. We worked together – one heard it, two of us followed it, and one finally saw it. And we all watched it fly away.

Miss: Yellow-rumped Warbler – finally showed up when we were hiding from the rain. Missing Sandhill Cranes.

The Cardenals, 125 species

Best: Green Heron. Pie-billed Grebe nest with two young.

Miss: Cardinal – and our name is Cardinals! Second, we realized we forgot Candice (a team member) at one point. Oops!


Biodiversity Challenge:

The Whip-poor-wills, 176.5 species

Best: Black-bellied Plover. Ebony Bog-haunter (new to the list). Drive our bikes down Wylie and listening to Whip-poor-wills calling. We also found a Five-lined Skink on the alvar (which is very unusual).

The Chachalacas, 177 species

Best: It’s a tie. Cute factor = we’re driving up Wylie Rd in the dark, and the highlights shine on three Woodcock. Two are babies. So cute. The other favourite was further up Wylie. Eric did his own Barred Owl impression and the rest of the team is laughing. But a Barred Owl called back!

Miss: Least Bittern. We heard it was around – we tried Prospect, we tried Sedge, we tried Sedge again…we did not get the Least Bittern.

The Bruce and the Spruce Moose

Best: Seeing Esme’s face when we saw the Bay-breasted Warberl

Miss: Where were the Shrike? We looked at the top of every Hawkthorn tree in Carden, but no Shrike! 

Thanks again to everyone!