The 104th Christmas Bird Count

Tags: Christmas Bird Count, Christmas Bird Counts, Canada, North America, Canada and the United States, Mexico, South America, AMERICAN BIRDS, Orange County, San Francisco, CA, New England, Santa Barbara, Pine Warblers, Santa Cruz County, south-central Canada, American Goldfinches, North American, the Cape Crozier CBC list, Red Crossbills, Colombia, field observers, Cape Crozier, Noah Stryker, number of birds, Sinaloa Wren, Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh, Florida IDGV Garden Valley, Idaho ILME Monroe County, Illinois, feederwatchers, Ontario ONPL Pickle Lake, Ontario YTJC Johnson, the North American, Latin America, species diversity, British Columbia, United States, Antarctica, Pine Grosbeaks, reintroduction programs, California, New Mexico, Bird Studies Canada Avery, National Audubon Society, western birds, Southern resident species, Trumpeter Swans, Gulf Coast of Texas, Whooping Cranes, South Carolina, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Richard J. Cannings, Richard J. Cannings Summary, resident species, record numbers, Whitewinged Crossbills, count period, warbler species, America, California's Santa Barbara CBC, Greg Butcher, Bird Count, the Christmas Bird, Noah Strycker, Pine Siskins, the Pacific Islands
Content: The 109th Christmas Bird Count
American Birds
Volume 63
Published by the National Audubon Society 225 Varick Street, 7th floor New York, NY 10014 October 2009
G. Thomas Bancroft Vice-President and Chief Scientist
Geoffrey S. LeBaron Director, Christmas Bird Count and Editor-in-Chief
Greg Butcher Director, Bird Conservation
Kathy Dale Director of IT, Audubon Science
Richard J. Cannings Christmas Bird Count Coordinator, Bird Studies Canada
Avery English-Elliott Ruth Helmich Christmas Bird Count Assistants
Connie Isbell Managing Editor
Mickey Boisvert www.mbdesign-us.com Art Director/graphic designer
Greg Merhar Graphics Associate
Caroline Jackson GIS Technician
Heidi DeVos Production Director
Gregory P. Licciardi Managing Director of Advertising
Audubon Science Center 545 Almshouse Road Ivyland, PA 18974 www.audubon.org/bird
Birders may not often think of American Coots (Fulica americana) as lovely photographic subjects, but these coots in motion at Clear Lake, California, provide just such an image. Photo/Barbara Bridges CONTENTS The 109th Christmas Bird Count . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Geoffrey S. LeBaron The 109th Christmas Bird Count in Canada . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Richard J. Cannings Christmas Bird Counts and climate change: Northward Shifts in Early Winter Abundance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Daniel K. Niven, Gregory S. Butcher, and G. Thomas Bancroft Four Hundred and Counting: Reflections on a Long Association with the Christmas Bird Count . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Paul W. Sykes Jr. Not Just a Walk in the Park: New York's Central Park Christmas Bird Count . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 Sarah McCarn Elliott On the Ice: The First Christmas Bird Count in Antarctica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 Noah Strycker The Birds of Christmas in London, Ontario: One Hundred Years and Going Strong . . . . . . . .35 Peter Read Pictorial Highlights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Alphabetical Index to Regional Summaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 Regional Summaries of the 109th Christmas Bird Count . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43 Christmas Bird Count Editorial Codes and Database Flags . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .107 Count Circles, Codes, and Compilers in the 109th Count . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .108 Summary of Highest Counts of Individuals for Canada . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .120 Richard J. Cannings Summary of Highest Counts of Individuals for the United States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .123 Brent Ortego
Bird Studies Canada/ Йtudes d'Oiseaux Canada P.O. Box 160 Port Rowan, Ontario N0E 1M0 www.bsc-eoc.org
ON THE COVER: Though penguins have been tallied on Christmas Bird Counts in or near southern South America over the past few seasons, they have been of species that breed on the mainland, not birds restricted to the ice of the Antarctic continent. During the 109th CBC Adelie Penguins (Pygoscelus adeliae) were tallied for the first time (in the hundreds of thousands!), their inclusion a result of the brand new count, the first ever in Antarctica, at Cape Crozier. Photo/Noah Strycker
The 109th Christmas Bird Count December 14, 2008 to January 5, 2009 Geoffrey S. LeBaron
Weather, weather, weather--when we plan, participate on, or summarize any given Christmas Bird Count, it always seems to boil down to a discussion of the effects of the weather. Good or bad, during the count period or leading up to it, or even in other parts of the globe, it's weather that drives birds and birders alike to do what they do and be in the places they are during the early winter period in which the Christmas Bird Count is held. You'd think that the law of averages would allow an area that was particularly hard-hit in one season to have a year or three off, but Mother Nature doesn't seem to recognize such fairness. "Exceptional" and "Extreme" drought conditions continue--as they have for many years--over South Texas, while the "Severe" drought classification continues to cover most of the state of California. The Gulf Coast, just beginning to recover from the ravages of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, was clobbered again in September 2008 with Hurricane Ike, the third most destructive hurricane ever to hit the United States. While Galveston, Texas, took the brunt of the storm and garnered most of the media attention, little note was made of the fact that the southwestern coastal areas of Louisiana were again inundated by a major storm surge, effectively obliterating the natural and human recovery that was under way from three years prior. On a more immediate level for the 109th Christmas Bird Count, severe ocean storms again pummeled the West Coast from coastal British Columbia to northern California during much of the count period, causing multiple postponements and outright cancellation of
a number of counts. Rather than the El Niсo season predicted by some, La Niсa had returned for a second winter. Record snowfalls also fell across the Midwest and in the Mountain West, and a snowstorm in Louisiana (!) on December 11th moved to the northeast as an ice storm within 24 hours, encasing much of New York, New England, and the Atlantic Provinces with devastating amounts of ice just prior to the count period. Up to a million people were without power, some for weeks. Heavy snowstorms continued throughout the 109th Christmas Bird Count season, and CBC compilers and participants alike had their work cut out for them. The 109th count stage was also set bird-wise; during the fall of 2008, a major southward flight of Pine Siskins occurred, and Snowy Owls and Roughlegged Hawks began to appear both early and in good numbers. Discussions were shared regarding the likelihood of a winter finch flight, perhaps including different species from those of the flight of 2007­2008. Also, conditions in the fall had been fairly mild in some regions, while others (especially the northern Rockies) were hit with early heavy snow. As always, there were high hopes among birders of lingering migrants or wayward vagrants. Such are the carrots that entice us into the field during the CBC, or on any day of birding for that matter! And out we went indeed, in full force, from December 14th, 2008, through January 5th, 2009, on the 109th Christmas Bird Count. Amazingly, despite needing to thread the needle of opportunity with weather conditions, another new record number of Christmas Bird Counts was submitted in the 109th count--2124, edging out
last season's all-time high of 2113 by 11 circles. Just think what would have been possible if a good number of counts had not been canceled due to weather! Of the 2124 areas included, 361 were in Canada (which took the brunt of the weather cancellations), 1673 were in the United States, and 90 in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, and beyond. As is virtually always the case, a good representation of new circles is included in those totals, and Table 1 lists the new counts included during the 109th season--9 in Canada, 18 in the United States, and 16 south of the United States-Mexico border. Again this season we welcome a flock of new counts (13) in Colombia, where enthusiasm for the CBC program continues to grow. We also welcome a new continent to the universe of the Christmas Bird Count--Antarctica! People may wonder why the Antarctic is relevant to the avifauna of North America. Sidestepping a discussion of melting ice sheets and Global Climate Change, remember that many seabirds familiar to pelagic birders off the coasts of North America are deep austral breeders.
Each CBC season has its own avian highlights, and for the 109th count the big story was a major flight of Pine Siskins (Spinus pinus). Though siskins were widespread on CBCs across much of North America, this one was photographed during the Great Backyard Bird Count. Photo/Linda Koning
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AMERICAN BIRDS
This is confirmed by the fact that the Cape Crozier CBC list (five species in all) includes Wilson's Storm-Petrel, a common breeder along the rocky coasts of Antarctica and its nearby islands, but certainly also among the most familiar of all seabirds in North American waters. Also included is South Polar Skua--one of those real "carrots" that gets birders offshore on boats in the Northern Hemisphere. For more details of the Cape Crozier CBC, please see Noah Stryker's feature article included in these pages. Thousands of circles means tens of thousands of observers, and in the 109th count we fanned out again across the countryside and waters to tally birds. All told, 59,813 total observers (50,475 field observers plus 9338 feederwatchers) participated on counts, not surprisingly (given the conditions) slightly shy of last season's all-time record number of participants. The regional breakdowns are as follows: 7515 field observers plus 3544 feederwatchers in Canada; 41,180 field observers plus 5750 feederwatchers in the United States, and 1780 field observers plus 44 feederwatchers in the Caribbean, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and Antarctica. Effectively mustering all those birders is one of the many tasks of CBC compilers and subcompilers; without their careful management and efforts, the Christmas Bird Count would be a much less valuable tool for the conservation and research communities. Managing large groups of observers is no mean feat, and Table 2 lists the Christmas Bird Counts in the 109th season with some of the busiest compilers of all--the areas with 100 or more observers. Many thanks go to all compilers, with groups large or small. The total number of birds tallied in the 109th Christmas Bird Count-- 65,596,663--is up from last season, possibly due to the effect of more roosts of some species being included in this year's count circles. The regional breakdown (2,836,595 in Canada; 61,347,290 in the United States; and 1,412,778
elsewhere) reflects not only the areas with the most coverage, but also the regions where the abundance of birds is likely to be highest. Many boreal breeders leave their northern haunts for more moderate climes in southern North America, while the abundance of birds encountered in the Neotropics is notoriously low. Numbers of birds encountered in the field in Latin America can be surprisingly small, even as the species diversity may be incredibly high. Table 3 lists all circles in the 109th Christmas Bird Count tallying 150 or more species, and thus blessed with both a diversity of habitats and species. Comparing counts with the highest species totals in North America and South America, we see that the stellar effort of 233 species tallied at Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh, Texas, is eclipsed by the total of 420 species at Mindo-Tandayapa, Ecuador. Yet if we look at the actual number of birds encountered, the 97 observers in Texas tallied 628,451 birds, while the 161 observers in Ecuador found only 11,264 birds. In fact, if one large roost had been encountered in Texas, they could easily tally millions of birds; conversely, some groups in Latin America tally numbers of birds only in the hundreds. Each type of count has its own special challenges--and rewards! While on the subject of bird diversity, 661 species (plus 38 forms and 28 introduced exotics) were tallied during the 109th Christmas Bird Count in Canada and the United States. Included this season are two new species to the cumulative CBC list: Jack Snipe from Eugene, Oregon, and Little Bunting from Greater Massett, British Columbia. The notoriously difficult to find but longpresent Sinaloa Wren at Patagonia, Arizona, was frustratingly only seen during count week, even though it was present in the circle both before and after the census day. Additionally, one new taxon currently recognized as subspecies was tallied in the 109th CBC season: "Brewster's" Brown Booby from Laysan Island, Hawaii. And while not new to the overall Christmas Bird Count,
Table 1. New counts in the 109th (2008­2009) Christmas Bird Count Count Count Name Code CANADA ABRD Red Deer, Alberta ABSV Spruce View, Alberta BCGF Grand Forks, British Columbia BCSH Stewart-Hyder, British Columbia BCVT Valemount, British Columbia MBPP Portage la Prairie, Manitoba ONMY Massey, Ontario ONPL Pickle Lake, Ontario YTJC Johnson's Crossing, Yukon Territory UNITED STATES AKCW Cantwell, Alaska CATJ Tejon Ranch, California FLFG Flagler, Florida IDGV Garden Valley, Idaho ILME Monroe County, Illinois ILRC Rock Cut S.P., Illinois KYLD London, Kentucky MIAM Antrim-Old Mission, Michigan MIER Eaton Rapids, Michigan MIOD Oscoda, Michigan MITW Tawas, Michigan MOCF Confluence, Missouri NCHR Hanging Rock S.P., North Carolina NMCV Clovis, New Mexico NMLR Ladder Ranch, New Mexico TXGT Georgetown-Andice, Texas VABH Buchanan, Virginia VTRD Randolph, Vermont CARIBBEAN, LATIN AMERICA, ANTARCTICA AQCC Cape Crozier, Antarctica CLAM Parque Nacional Natural Amacayacu-Sector Matamata, Amazonas, Colombia CLAQ Andaqui, Caqueta, Colombia CLIN Ibague Zona Norte, Tolima, Colombia CLIR Islas del Rosario and Barz, Bolivar, Colombia CLIZ Ibague Zona Central, Tolima, Colombia CLLC Santuario de Fauna y Flora Los Colorados, Bolivar, Colombia CLPB Paipa, Boyaca, Colombia CLPI Pisba AICA, Boyaca, Colombia CLPO Pachaquiaro, Meta, Colombia CLSA San Andres, San Andres y Providencia Islands, Colombia CLSI San Isidro, Huila, Colombia CLTU Tunja, Boyaca, Colombia CRCV CATIE-Villa Florencia, Costa Rica MXBL Barranca Rancho la Liebre, Sinaloa, Mexico MXMD Madera, Chihuahua, Mexico
THE 109TH CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT
AMERICAN BIRDS
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Table 2. Counts with 100 or more participants in the 109th (2008­2009) CBC.
Code ABED MACO OREU CASB CAOA ABCA CAPR ONLO ORPD VAFB BCVI ECNM CAWS SCHH CASZ ABSA WASE OHCF NSHD AKAN OHCI WASD ONOH DCDC NSWO BCVA LABR MANO COBO CASF NYIT CODV FLSC CAMC ONTO VACL CTHA CAPA NSKI NJLH WIMI RIBI SCSC CAOC PAPI MDSE CRRF SKSA AKFA MAGB TXBF OHMI CAON NJPR
Count Name Edmonton, AB Concord, MA Eugene, OR Santa Barbara, CA Oakland, CA Calgary, AB Point Reyes Peninsula, CA London, ON Portland, OR Fort Belvoir, VA Victoria, BC Mindo-Tandayapa, Ecuador Western Sonoma County, CA Hilton Head Island, SC Sonoma Valley, CA St. Albert, AB Seattle, WA Cuyahoga Falls, OH Halifax-Dartmouth, NS Anchorage, AK Cincinnati, OH Sequim-Dungeness, WA Ottawa-Gatineau, ON Washington, DC Wolfville, NS Vancouver, BC Baton Rouge, LA Northampton, MA Boulder, CO San Francisco, CA Ithaca, NY Denver (urban), CO Sanibel-Captiva, FL Marin County (southern), CA Toronto, ON Central Loudon, VA Hartford, CT Palo Alto, CA Kingston, NS Lower Hudson, NJ-NY Milwaukee, WI Block Island, RI Sun City-Okatie, SC Orange County (coastal), CA Pittsburgh, PA Seneca, MD Rain Forest Aerial Tram, Costa Rica Saskatoon, SK Fairbanks, AK Greater Boston, MA Buffalo Bayou, TX Millersburg, OH Orange County (northeastern), CA Princeton, NJ
# Observers 409 353 228 212 208 200 197 180 173 173 164 161 158 156 155 148 148 144 142 136 135 134 132 131 131 130 129 129 128 123 123 122 122 121 120 119 118 117 117 116 116 113 113 112 112 108 106 105 104 104 103 102 101 100
(Field + Feeder) (119 + 290) (192 + 161) (155 + 73) (209 + 3) (189 + 19) (77 + 123) (197 + 0) (102 + 78) (130 + 43) (167 + 6) (164 + 0) (161 + 0) (158 + 0) (156 + 0) (151 + 4) (46 + 102) (141 + 7) (103 + 41) (75 + 67) (88 + 48) (111 + 24) (92 + 42) (94 + 38) (130 + 1) (44 + 87) (113 + 17) (39 + 90) (116 + 13) (106 + 22) (117 + 6) (108 + 15) (93 + 29) (122 + 0) (113 + 8) (118 + 2) (118 + 1) (108 + 10) (117 + 0) (20 + 97) (116 + 0) (105 + 11) (113 + 0) (95 + 18) (112 + 0) (95 + 17) (106 + 2) (106 + 0) (50 + 55) (72 + 32) (100 + 4) (93 + 10) (102 + 0) (101 + 0) (88 + 12)
Sage Thrasher was added to the cumulative Canadian CBC list from Blenheim, Ontario. Canada and the United States only comprise a portion of the geographic area covered by the Christmas Bird Count, and all told there were 2126 species of birds tallied (plus additional 251 forms and hybrids) in North
America, the Caribbean, South America, Antarctica, and the Pacific Islands. Given the 13 new counts in Colombia, this species list is an everincreasing roster of the birds of the Americas and beyond. Equally important on those Colombian (and other Latin American) CBCs are the North American breeding species that are tal-
Though Winter Wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes) are found across much of North America on CBCs, this "Eastern" subspecies bird was a treat on California's Santa Barbara CBC. Photo/Evan Caves lied on their wintering grounds. Perusing the lists of the neotropical CBC results gives a staggering array of spectacular and range-restricted resident species as well as an amazing variety of species that breed in North America. Birds from across the hemisphere are counted all in turn, and the regional totals can often be impressive. Table 4 lists the areas that tallied the most species in their given state, province, or other area--the regional high counts in the 109th Christmas Bird Count. In the big picture bird-wise, the 109th Christmas Bird Count is best characterized as a major irruption season for Pine Siskins. The event began earlier in the fall, with a big southward push, especially along the East Coast (where thousands of flyover siskins were tallied at hawk watches) from mid-October to early November. There was a bit of a lull, then just prior to the CBC period in December a second more widespread flight occurred. Pine Siskins blanketed much of North America south of Canada and east of the Pacific Coast states during the CBC, with high or record numbers encountered by CBC participants from New England westward through the Rockies and southward to Florida, the Gulf Coast, and south Texas and New Mexico. They made it just over the border into Mexico in small numbers, but missed Bermuda to the east.
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Pine Warblers (Dendroica pinus) are fairly hardy birds and often linger far north of other warbler species. But this bird--a CBC first for Montana at Eureka--was decidedly out of place on a thermometer reading -20 degrees Fahrenheit! Photo/Lynda Young Also in the east and mid-continent, a major flight of White-winged Crossbills was developing. Across south-central Canada and the northern tier of states from New England to the Rockies, White-winged Crossbills were recorded in good to record numbers. Interestingly in the west, both the siskins and Whitewinged Crossbills were replaced by a significant flight of Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings. Last season the Bohemians and Pine Grosbeaks moved eastward and southward; this season it was the coast of the Pacific Northwest that bore the fruit (probably literally) for these two species. Some other "winter finches" (Purple Finches, Red Crossbills, Common Redpolls, and American Goldfinches) were noted as up in some regions, especially in the Great Lakes and the West, but not in numbers of siskins or White-winged Crossbills. Unfortunately, Evening Grosbeak continues to be mentioned across the continent by its absence or low numbers; this species is declining dramatically just about everywhere, and the causes are not well understood. Other avian events occurred during the 109th CBC as well, beginning with a winter raptor push prior to the count period. Snowy Owls, in some instances with near-record early dates, moved southward in October and November. But somehow the flight fizzled; during the count period, these majestic white raptors were encountered in average
Table 3. Counts with 150 or more species recorded in the 109th (2008­2009) CBC.
Table 3a. Counts north of the United States-Mexican border.
Count Code TXMM TXGF CASB CAOC CASD CAMD TXFR CAPR CAMP CARS CAOV CACB CAMR CAVE TXSB CACS CATO CAWS CAAR CALB NCMC TXAR FLNR CAMC CAOA FLMI CAAN FLZE TXPA TXWS CABE CALA CASF SCMC TXAZ TXCC CASC CASJ CASZ CAPA FLCO NCSB TXAP TXLA CAHF CASS FLSP TXLS CASM FLJA CARC FLSR NCWI SCLP SCWB FLGA CADN CAPP TXBV CAMU MDOC TXCF CALU NCMA NJCM TXGA TXHG VACC AZGV TXSA CAES CAON ORCB FLSB GASV TXKI SCHH TXAY AZRC CASG CASU FLAL LACW TXBP TXCY TXRO
Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 6 8 9 10 11 12 12 14 14 16 17 17 19 20 21 22 23 24 24 24 27 27 27 27 31 31 31 31 31 31 37 38 38 40 40 42 42 42 45 45 47 47 49 50 51 51 51 51 51 56 57 57 57 60 60 60 63 63 63 63 63 63 69 69 71 71 71 74 74 74 77 77 79 79 79 82 82 82 82 82
Count Name
Species Recorded
Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh, TX
233
Guadalupe River Delta-McFadden Ranch, TX
217
Santa Barbara, CA
209
Orange County (coastal), CA
202
San Diego, CA
201
Moss Landing, CA
199
Freeport, TX
199
Point Reyes Peninsula, CA
197
Monterey Peninsula, CA
196
Rancho Santa Fe, CA
193
Oceanside-Vista-Carlsbad, CA
192
Centerville Beach to King Salmon, CA
188
Morro Bay, CA
188
Ventura, CA
187
San Bernard N.W.R., TX
187
Crystal Springs, CA
184
Thousand Oaks, CA
183
Western Sonoma County, CA
183
Arcata, CA
181
Long Beach-El Dorado, CA
179
Morehead City, NC
177
Aransas N.W.R., TX
176
West Pasco (New Port Richey), FL
175
Marin County (southern), CA
174
Oakland, CA
174
Merritt Island N.W.R., FL
174
Aсo Nuevo, CA
173
Zellwood-Mt. Dora, FL
173
Port Aransas, TX
173
Weslaco, TX
173
Benicia, CA
172
Los Angeles, CA
172
San Francisco, CA
172
McClellanville, SC
172
Anzalduas-Bentsen S.P., TX
172
Corpus Christi, TX
172
Santa Cruz County, CA
171
San Jose, CA
170
Sonoma Valley, CA
170
Palo Alto, CA
166
Cocoa, FL
166
Southport-Bald Head-Oak Islands, NC
165
Attwater Prairie Chicken N.W.R., TX
165
Laguna Atascosa N.W.R., TX
165
Hayward-Fremont, CA
164
Salton Sea (south), CA
164
St. Petersburg, FL
163
La Sal Vieja, TX
163
Sacramento, CA
162
Jacksonville, FL
161
Rio Cosumnes, CA
160
Sarasota, FL
160
Wilmington, NC
160
Litchfield-Pawleys Island, SC
160
Winyah Bay, SC
160
Gainesville, FL
159
Del Norte County, CA
158
Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
158
Brownsville, TX
158
Malibu, CA
157
Ocean City, MD
157
Corpus Christi (Flour Bluff), TX
157
La Purisima, CA
156
Mattamuskeet N.W.R., NC
156
Cape May, NJ
156
Galveston, TX
156
Harlingen, TX
156
Cape Charles, VA
156
Green Valley-Madera Canyon, AZ
155
Santa Ana N.W.R., TX
155
Escondido, CA
154
Orange County (northeastern), CA
154
Coos Bay, OR
154
South Brevard County, FL
153
Savannah, GA-SC
153
Kingsville, TX
153
Hilton Head, SC
152
Armand Bayou, TX
152
Ramsey Canyon, AZ
151
Santa Maria-Guadalupe, CA
151
San Juan Capistrano, CA
151
Alafia Banks, FL
150
Crowley, LA
150
Bolivar Peninsula, TX
150
Cypress Creek, TX
150
Rockport, TX
150
THE 109TH CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT
AMERICAN BIRDS
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Table 3b. Counts south of the United States-Mexican border.
Count Code
Rank
ECNM
1
CRRF
2
CRLS
3
ECYY
4
CRPR
5
CRMO
6
RPPC
7
RPAC
8
BLBC
9
RPCC
9
BLPG
11
BLBE
12
GMAV
13
ECLA
14
BLGJ
15
GMTK
16
RPVC
17
MXCZ
18
TRTR
19
CLBB
20
MXES
21
Count Name
Species Recorded
Mindo-Tandayapa, Ecuador
420
Rain Forest Aerial Tram, Costa Rica
398
La Selva, Lower Braulio Carillo N.P., Costa Rica
375
Yanayacu, Ecuador
373
Pacific Rainforest Aerial Tram-Carara Reserve, Costa Rica 310
Monteverde, Costa Rica
299
Pacific Canal Area, Panama
268
Atlantic Canal Area, Panama
254
Belize City, Belize
251
Central Canal Area, Panama
251
Punta Gorda, Belize
239
Belmopan, Belize
233
Atitlan Volcano, Guatemala
229
Loma Alta, Ecuador
202
Gallon Jug, Belize
201
Tikal, Guatemala
193
Volcan, Chiriqui, Panama
184
Coast of Central Veracruz, Mexico
175
Trinidad, W.I.
173
Rio Barbas-Bremen Natural Reserve, Quindio, Colombia 172
Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
168
Smallest of the North American white geese, the Ross's Goose (Chen rossii) is apparently increasing in numbers and is showing up more frequently in Eastern Regions of the continent. But this bird on the Bermuda CBC, a thousand miles or so out in the Atlantic Ocean, was a real treat. Photo/Andrew Dobson
numbers in expected areas. However, Rough-legged Hawks also moved early and remained more of a presence during the count. They were noted in high numbers particularly in two regions-- New England and Montana/Idaho. Apparently their movements were focused along two continental barriers, the Atlantic seaboard to the east and the Rocky Mountains to the west. Another dispersal of sorts was detected by observers during the 109th CBC-- birds moving northward from Mexico. The aforementioned Sinaloa and also "Brown-throated" wrens in Arizona, plus vagrants such as Crimson-collared Grosbeak and Blue Bunting in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas illustrate this. Perhaps the most notable was a veritable incursion of five Masked Ducks at La Sal Vieja, Texas--a remarkable record for
this notoriously reclusive waterfowl. Four species that are the subject of reintroduction programs in North America deserve note. Trumpeter Swans, while declining in their native Yellowstone Basin, are the subject of several highly successful introduction projects. In addition to the native Western Birds, these largest of all North American waterfowl were tallied across much of the upper Midwest and the East. Whooping Cranes, not yet "countable" except along the Gulf Coast of Texas, are being noted on CBCs in many regions. This year, in addition to Florida (where reintroduced birds have been tallied for several years now), Whoopers were seen in Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina. Two reintroduced raptors--California Condor and Aplomado Falcon--seem to be taking
hold well. Condors were reported on three California counts this season and have been seen once in the past on a CBC in Utah. Their numbers are increasing in the Grand Canyon--perhaps more counts in Arizona and Utah will find them in the upcoming years. Reintroduced Aplomado Falcons are doing well along the Gulf Coast of Texas, and we hope soon will be tallied in New Mexico and west Texas, where a second reintroduction effort for that species is under way. So what is it that drives us to get out into nature and go birding and to continue the Christmas Bird Count tradition? Of course, birders want to see birds, and they are aware of the changes in species over time. As detailed elsewhere in this issue, the Christmas Bird Count has readily documented what thousands of us have known for some decades--that many species are shifting their ranges. Southern resident species are marching northward, and migrant species are wintering farther and farther northward and inland. It's nice to have the confirmation from a formal study, though we all knew that was going on. But why do we care? Birding, and a general appreciation for the natural world, can be instilled in people at many times during their lives. Mentors or enthusiastic friends can turn people on to nature and promote an environmental awareness. Outdoor activities, whether through birding clubs, Audubon chapters, or scout and school groups, get people young and old inspired to watch wildlife--"Connecting People with Nature." But perhaps the biggest influence can come from our parents and extended family during our formative years. I was incredibly fortunate to grow up with a family--and parents--who readily appreciated nature and were birdwatchers. Nothing was ever forced upon me, but the general philosophy of an appreciation of things "out there" was always present. My mother did balk during the season when I raised black widow spiders in our house for a high school senior science fair project,
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AMERICAN BIRDS
but anything bird (or butterfly) related was always fair game. Cross-country trips with my parents became birding outings; expeditions with scouting and high school groups often turned into natural history tours. Those years molded my college and career paths and instilled in me a love for, and desire to share, birds and nature with others, even those who can seem unwilling field partners. We who participate on Christmas Bird Counts and similar outdoor activities are in an enviable position to positively influence those who are in the field with us and to pass on our ardor for birds and the rest of the natural world. This past season, my CBC field partner Doug and I were trudging along in late afternoon in the wildlife refuge where we end our day. Over the years we've had some wonderful finds there, but also spent hours walking miles through thickets and along the salt pond shores tallying only a few common species. One of our "old friends" (birds as well as birders are old friends) was an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull we were thrilled to discover on December 22, 2001. Each year since then we've tallied the same bird--often on the same rock--as part of our count. That bird has become a part of our tradition. But this season, the gull wasn't around, on the rocks, in the bay, or flying around. No manner of scoping could find our special gull, and we wondered if it had gone on to the great gull garbage dump in the sky. As we finished our trek, we cast one last glance toward the rock where our missing friend had been and were surprised to see an elegant, dark-mantled gull flying towards us. It circled around the bay and landed--you guessed it-- right on that rock. Our Lesser Black-backed Gull had returned, tallied for its eighth year. Was it looking for us as much as we were hoping to find it? That's doubtful, but it was a wonderful way to end the count. This summary is dedicated to my mother, Margaret Shaw LeBaron, an avid birder and concerned environmentalist who passed away on May 11, 2009.
Table 4. Regional high counts for the 109th (2008­2009) Christmas Bird Count.
Region
# of CBCs
Highest Count (species total)
St.-Pierre et Miquelon Newfoundland Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island New Brunswick Quйbec Ontario Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia Northwest Territories Nunavut Yukon Territory Alaska Maine New Hampshire Vermont Massachusetts Rhode Island Connecticut New York New Jersey Pennsylvania Delaware Maryland District of Columbia Virginia North Carolina South Carolina Georgia Florida Ohio West Virginia Kentucky Tennessee Alabama Mississippi Michigan Indiana Wisconsin Illinois Minnesota Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana North Dakota South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Texas Montana Idaho Wyoming Colorado New Mexico Utah Nevada Arizona Washington Oregon California Hawaii Northern Mariana Islands Mexico Belize Guatemala Nicaragua Costa Rica Panama Colombia Ecuador Chile Antarctica Trinidad Bahamas Dominican Republic Puerto Rico British Virgin Islands U.S. Virgin Islands Bermuda
2
Оle St.-Pierre (50)
11
St. John's (75)
18
Halifax-Dartmouth (134)
2
Hillsborough (49)
2
Prince Edward Island N.P. (49)
10
Grand Manan Island (82)
31
Montrйal (69)
112
Blenheim (115)
16
Cypress River-Spruce Woods (41)
21
Saskatoon (39)
37
Calgary (65)
83
Victoria (137)
6
Fort Smith (21)
2
Arviat (2)
Rankin Inlet (2)
9
Whitehorse (22)
37
Ketchikan (75)
29
Greater Portland (115)
17
Coastal New Hampshire (94)
18
Ferrisburg (80)
33
Nantucket (134)
4
South Kingstown (128)
16
New London (125)
68
L.I.: Southern Nassau County (141)
29
Cape May (156)
70
Southern Lancaster County (106)
7
Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook (145)
24
Ocean City (157)
1
Washington (101)
44
Cape Charles (156)
46
Morehead City (177)
20
McClellanville (172)
26
Savannah, GA-SC (153)
65
West Pasco (New Port Richey) (175)
62
Toledo (96)
18
Charles Town (80)
14
Land Between the Lakes (97)
30
Reelfoot Lake (119)
11
Gulf Shores (142)
17
Jackson County (144)
Southern Hancock County (144)
65
Rockwood (93)
38
Goose Pond (105)
41
Madison (83)
58
Rend Lake (114)
46
Bloomington (60)
31
Keokuk (90)
26
Mingo N.W.R. (103)
21
Holla Bend N.W.R. (120)
21
Crowley (150)
17
Garrison Dam (45)
Minot (45)
16
Pierre (71)
10
Lake McConaughy (97)
21
Arkansas City (98)
19
Oklahoma City (125)
103
Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh (233)
32
Stevensville (82)
26
Nampa (93)
20
Jackson Hole (69)
42
Pueblo Reservoir (121)
33
Caballo (127)
22
St. George (109)
12
Trukee Meadows (106)
35
Green Valley-Madera Canyon (155)
39
Grays Harbor (142)
39
Coos Bay (154)
120
Santa Barbara (209)
10
Waipi'o, Oahu (51)
5
Saipan (52)
22
Coast of Central Veracruz (175)
4
Belize City (251)
2
Atitlan Volcano (229)
1
Sierritas de Managua, Conteo Navideсo (96)
5
Rain Forest Aerial Tram (398)
4
Pacific Canal Area (268)
24 Rio Barbas-Bremen Natural Reserve, Quindio (172)
4
Mindo-Tandayapa (420)
1
Drake Passage, South Atlantic Ocean (21)
1
Cape Crozier, Antarctica (5)
1
Trinidad (173)
4
New Providence Island (119)
2
Puerto Escondido (77)
3
Cabo Rojo (133)
2
Tortola (43)
3
St. Croix (69)
1
Bermuda (105)
THE 109TH CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT
AMERICAN BIRDS
7
The 109th Christmas Bird Count in Canada December 14, 2008, to January 5, 2009 Richard J. Cannings
A total of 361 Canadian counts reported this year, down 10 from the 371 counts reporting for the last two years. For the second year in a row, weather played a dramatic role in counts across the country, particularly in the west. Four major counts on the British Columbia coast were canceled outright when a series of heavy snowfalls blocked roads for days on end. Only Atlantic Canada escaped the cold, enjoying a relatively balmy count period. Despite the decrease in counts done, there were nine new counts added to the Canadian fold: Grand Forks, Valemount, and StewartHyder, BC; Red Deer and Spruce View, AB; Johnson's Crossing, YT; Portage la Prairie, MB; Massey and Pickle Lake, ON. The Kluane National Park count in southwestern Yukon was restarted after a long absence. Participant numbers dropped by about 500 to 11,059, entirely due to a decrease in the numbers of field observers. The number of feederwatchers increased by about 200 this year--perhaps a further indication of the effects of bad weather. Bird numbers predictably fell as well; the individual total was down to 2.8 million from last year's 3.2 million, while the species total remained steady (albeit at a relatively low level) at 283.
The weather differential between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts made things interesting in the battle for top count this year. In the end, Victoria, BC, with 137 species, narrowly beat out HalifaxDartmouth's 134, this despite Victoria enduring one of the snowiest days in that city's history. Blenheim, ON had the best inland count with 115 species. At the other end of the diversity spectrum, counts in Nunavut tallied two species-- Common Eider and Common Raven. Other provincial high counts are shown in Table 1. In last year's report I remarked how cold it had been, but this year made the previous effort look downright tropical (Table 2). Every region except the Atlantic coast was significantly colder than last year. In terms of abundance (Table 3), European Starling stabilized at last year's lower numbers but kept its number one position. The commonest waterbirds--Canada Geese and Mallards--also maintained their positions near the top of the list but continued to fall in numbers even when compared to last year's low results. The only common birds that really increased this year were American Crow, Snow Bunting, and American Goldfinch. The crow results are heartening (for crow lovers, at least), indicating a possible
rebound from losses due to West Nile virus in the northern part of their range. Two species were added to the official Canadian Christmas Bird Count list this year. The most remarkable was a Little Bunting found in a flock of juncos at Greater Massett, BC. This little Eurasian sparrow is not only new for Canadian counts, but a first for any Christmas count anywhere. The other new species was a Sage Thrasher decidedly out of habitat at Blenheim, ON. The all-time Canada species list for Christmas Bird Counts now stands at 411. Wolfville, NS, had a Le Conte's Sparrow, only the second ever for a Canadian count, and a Manx Shearwater got on the count week list at Grand Manan, NB, the first time that species has made it into a Canadian CBC report. Northern owls drifted southward in decent numbers this year, perhaps driven by snow and cold in the west. Snowy Owl numbers were well up this year, with 252 reported compared to last year's 65. These birds were distributed across the country (though BC only had one), with Ontario reporting 96. Northern Hawk Owls were seen almost everywhere as well, particularly in the west, with a total of 49 this year compared to 19 last year. Great Gray Owls also increased from 29 last year to 52 this
Table 1. Provincial and territorial summaries for the 109th Christmas Bird Count.
Province or Territory Alberta British Columbia Manitoba New Brunswick Newfoundland and Labrador Nova Scotia Northwest Territories Nunavut Ontario Prince Edward Island Quйbec St.-Pierre et Miquelon Saskatchewan Yukon Territories TOTAL
Counts 37 82 16 10 11 18 6 3 112 2 32 2 21 9 361
Field observers 791 1794 248 193 176 431 64 2 2813 36 620 21 237 89 7515
Feeder watchers 783 596 104 86 49 464 19 0 1175 4 144 1 85 34 3544
Species 105 215 74 110 112 161 23 2 175 64 116 69 79 28 283
8
AMERICAN BIRDS
Individuals 159,551 787,006 47,170 51,952 37,358 226,872 5152 129 1,222,430 22,215 188,037 10,615 73,729 4379 2,836,595
Highest species total and count 65, Calgary 137, Victoria 41, Cypress River-Spruce Woods 82, Grand Manan 75, St. John's 134, Halifax-Dartmouth 21, Fort Smith 2, Arviat, Rankin Inlet 115, Blenheim 49, Hillsborough, Prince Edward Island N.P. 69, Montrйal 50, Оle Saint-Pierre 39, Saskatoon 22, Whitehorse
Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus), on British Columbia's Abbotsford-Mission CBC. Photo/Gord Gadsden
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) at St. Johns, New Brunswick. Photo/Merv Cormier
year, more than half of them in Alberta. In this wintry winter, it's nice to cele- brate the summery birds that decided not to migrate, or more likely, migrated in the wrong direction and thus brightened the count lists of birders across the country. This year's lists included a Black Vulture at Brier Island, NS, White-eyed Vireo at Long Point, ON, a Western Kingbird and Summer Tanager at Halifax-Dartmouth, and a Black-headed Grosbeak at Chilliwack, BC. Some of
the vagrant gulls seem to be settling down--St. John's, NL, had a Yellowlegged Gull for the third year in a row, and Abbotsford-Mission, BC, had a Slaty-backed Gull for the second year in a row. And at least one species is doing rather well in Canada despite the chilly winter. The Eurasian Collared-Dove continues its quest for world domination; this year 410 were seen on 18 counts from Terrace, BC, to Riverside, NB.
Table 2. Yes, it was a cold count: average minimum temperatures reported on Christmas Bird Counts across Canada (єC/єF).
Region British Columbia Prairies Central Atlantic Territories
2005­06 -2.4/27.7 -11.8/10.8 -7.1/19.2 -4.7/23.5 -14.1/6.6
2006­07 -3.6/25.5 -11/12.2 -1.7/28.9 -2.9/26.8 -20.4/-4.7
2007­08 -2.4/27.7 -13.1/8.4 -9.9/14.2 -9.7/14.5 -24.3/-11.7
2008­09 -12.1/10.2 -25.8/-14.4 -11.2/11.8 -8.2/17.2 -31.8/-25.2
Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) at Beauce Sud, Quйbec. Photo/Paulin Rodrigue
Table 3. The 15 most abundant birds reported on the 109th Christmas Bird Count in Canada, with totals from the past two counts for comparison.
Species European Starling American Crow Canada Goose Mallard Black-capped Chickadee Rock Pigeon House Sparrow Snow Bunting Glaucous-winged Gull Bohemian Waxwing Dark-eyed Junco Herring Gull American Goldfinch Dunlin Mourning Dove
109th Count 326,355 282,492 176,799 146,063 115,657 111,654 100,767 99,059 90,482 86,597 74,437 70,049 58,961 53,906 47,093
108th Count 317,615 253,898 207,993 184,012 121,875 117,384 124,430 80,289 93,513 86,595 85,397 77,615 37,583 72,663 55,009
107th Count 457,478 191,328 297,987 224,279 132,821 124,107 138,627 41,469 112,596 76,004 66,514 97,568 57,760 52,872 59,632
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) at St. Albert, Alberta. Photo/Ted Hindmarch
THE 109TH CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT
AMERICAN BIRDS
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