2014 Christmas Bird Count Report
By Vincent Smith, Compiler
Here are some highlights for the Christmas Bird Count for 2014:
Black Vultures at 190 birds is the 3rd highest total for our count. Makes me wonder what those numbers would be if the weather was more cooperative for a diurnal flying species.
Cackling Goose from section 6 has shown up for the last 4 years. ( I need to scan for them a little harder).
Hooded Mergansers – The 28 birds is the highest total ever for our count.
Bald Eagle-6 Birds is the second highest total for the count.
N. Harriers also had a good year with 5 birds. Our Average is 1.
Red-shoulders Hawks with 6 birds was the highest total for our count. Our average is 1.
Kestrels are still down 3 birds. Our average is 17.
Merlin with 3 birds was the highest for our count.
Peregrine Falcon has showed up for the 3rd year in a row.
Ring-necked Pheasant has not been observed since 2007.
Wild Turkey has not showed up since 2011.
Lesser Black-backed Gull has showed up for the 3rd year in a row. I suspect this trend will continue.
The 35 Screech Owls was the 4th highest total for the count. Average is 27.
Downy Woodpecker-241 birds was the 3rd highest total for the species. average is 170.
Hairy Woodpeckers- 44 Birds ties for the highest total for the count.
N. Flicker-153 Birds is the highest total for the species.
Pileated Woodpecker-9 birds makes it the 3 highest total for the species. That is most interesting when we consider that with the exception of 1997, the first year with more than a single count was 2007. Since 2007 the species has shown an upward trend.
The Eastern Phoebe from Section 10 was an unusual find.
The 22 Fish Crows was the highest total for the species. Average is 2.
Common Raven- The 2 birds means that this is the 2nd year the species has been noted on the count. I suspect this will become even more of a trend.
The two photo documented N. Rough-winged Swallows from Section 10 on the Schuylkill River was an outstanding find. Oh the benefits of sewer treatment plants.
Of note was the lack of irruptive species. No Black-capped Chickadees or Red-breasted Nuthatches, though 8 Pine Siskins were found.
White-breasted Nuthatches with 245 Birds was the second highest total for the count.
Winter Wren with 17 birds tied 2001 for the 2nd highest total for the species.
Bluebirds-246 birds places this years count as the 2nd highest total for the count.
American Robin-2265 makes for the second highest total for the count. Average is 954.
Mockingbird with 38 is the second lowest total for the count. It will be interesting to what in store for this species. There has been a general downward trend since 2007. Average for the count is 105. I suspect that the decline in scrub/brush in favor of older trees may be hitting this species hard. Of course the last two cold years have not helped.
Cedar Waxwing. 0 Cedar Waxwings is the lowest total ever. Average for the count is 163.
Pine Warbler-This is the second year in a row that Pine Warblers showed up in Section 7.
Savannah Sparrow-18 birds is the 2nd highest total of this species.
Again, I want to thank all section leaders for your help. Next yearâs count will be 12/26/15.
I also wanted to get everyone a heads up for a future program that will show you the value of all your hard work. Rick Keyser & I hope to show you and the public what 30 years counting birds tells us regarding possible trends.
I also want to explore a get together with all section leaders to discuss territory outlines. See how everyone feels about their sections.
2010 Christmas Bird Count Report
By Vincent Smith, Compiler Some of the highlights of our 111th Christmas Bird Count include 72 species observed — a little short of our 27-year average of 75. In a general sense, waterfowl made a good showing including a first species on our count: the pair of Redhead ducks observed along the Schuykill River. The Hooded Merganser count was the highest total in 27 years and the Black Duck count the highest since 1991. Bald Eagle continues to be recorded and a Barred Owl and Merlin were great finds. On the down side, the trend for the American Kestrel is not good. Our highest American Kestrel Count was 54 birds observed in 1990. This year’s count at only 2 indicates a trend of decline that began in 1999. As for irruptive species, only Red-breasted Nuthatch and Black-cap Chickadee were observed.
2010 Spring Bird Count Report
By Edie Parnum, Compiler Valley Forge Audubon Society’s annual Spring Bird Count, first conducted in 1986, was held on June 5 and yielded good results. In fact, thanks to a record number of parties (30) and second highest number of volunteers (62), we saw 98 birds (2nd highest) and a total of 10, 350 birds. The average for the history for the Count is 7,303. Some people started as early as 5:00 a.m., and a few birded until 8:15 p.m. The skies were clear and the temperature started out at 75 degrees and reached 90 in the afternoon.
There were some uncommon birds sighted this year. In the past quarter century Redheaded Woodpecker had been seen only once in the count circle. Three were found this year, one at Peter Wentz Farm and two others in a power-line cut east of Anders Road near Skippack. At Norristown Farm Park three American Woodcock, one Snow Goose, and one Grasshopper Sparrow were seen.
Other uncommon birds sighted included Common Mergansers on Indian Head Dam on Perkiomen Creek, Broad-winged Hawk in Evansburg State Park, Bald Eagle near Washington’s Headquarters in Valley Forge Park, Purple Martins, and Cerulean Warbler at Pickering Creek Preserve. Eight birds were seen in record high numbers: Black Vulture, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Warbling Vireo, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Eastern Towhee. On the other hand, Ring-necked Pheasant, Black-billed Cuckoo, Kentucky Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Bobolink were missing altogether. Counts of Killdeer, White-eyed Vireo, and Blue-winged Warbler were low. There were no new birds this year, so the cumulative list of birds for the Count stands at 149 species.
2009 Christmas Bird Count Report
By Edie Parnum, Compiler On Saturday, December 26, it rained steadily all day and visibility was limited, but 69 dedicated, intrepid birders conducted the Valley Forge Audubon Society’s 26th annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). With just 22 teams, our coverage of the 15-mile circle was less complete than in most years. Some teams started as early as 5:30 AM to look for owls, and a few continued until 7:00 PM to find songbirds, raptors, ducks, and other species. By the end of the day they had identified 69 species (average 75), and located 11,463 birds, almost 50% lower than average (22,753). On a positive note, the Upper Main Line YMCA youth team found a first for the Count: an American Woodcock. A Ruddy Duck and a Merlin were also good birds this year. However, most birds were seen in fewer numbers than average. Some normally seen like Black Vulture, Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, and Purple Finch were not found at all.
2009 Spring Bird Count Report
By Edie Parnum, Compiler Valley Forge Audubon Society’s 24th annual Spring Bird Count was held on June 6. The Count was certainly a successful one. In fact, thanks to a record number of volunteers (67), we saw a record number of birds (11,497). The average for the history for the Count is 7,176. Some people started as early as 4:45 AM, and some others birded until 8:30 PM. The temperature was 59 degrees Fahrenheit at 5 AM and rose to 77 degrees at 4 PM. The skies were cloudy to partly cloudy. We found 92 species of birds, an average number.
A Barred Owl seen by Lynn and Frank Roman at Evansburg State Park was a new bird for the census. The cumulative list of birds for the count stands at 149 species. Other uncommon birds sighted included Common Merganser on Skippack Creek, Cerulean Warbler at Pickering Creek Preserve, Prothonotary Warbler at Norristown Farm Park, Kentucky Warbler at Valley Forge National Historic Park, and Hooded Warbler at McKaig Nature Center. An amazing thirty-two birds were seen in record high numbers: Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Mute Swan, Mallard, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Black-billed Cuckoo, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Blue Jay, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, and American Goldfinch. On the other hand, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Ring-necked Pheasant, Spotted Sandpiper, Purple Martin, Bank Swallow, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, and Bobolink were missing altogether. Veery was seen in just one of the eleven sections.
2008 Christmas Bird Count Report
By Edie Parnum, Compiler On Saturday, December 27, 78 birders conducted the Valley Forge Audubon Society’s 25th annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). With clouds and fog the visibility was not optimal, but the wind was calm and temperatures were moderate. Our 26 teams of volunteers dispersed throughout the 15-mile wide circle, its center the town of Audubon. Some started as early as 3:45 AM to look for owls and a few continued until 5:00 PM to find raptors, ducks, songbirds, and other species. By late afternoon they had identified 74 species, just shy of the average (75).
They located 19,235 birds, a lower than average number (23,205), probably due to the weather. The most notable birds were a Barred Owl (second record), a Ruddy Duck (second record), two Bald Eagles (regular in recent years), and an American Widgeon. New highs were set for Great Blue Heron, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Hooded Merganser, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Winter Wren, and Eastern Bluebird.
It should be noted, many of these birds are assisted by feeders or nest boxes. Pine Siskins (31) were observed this year, but none of the other irruptive species were found except two Red-breasted Nuthatches. Most of the usual lingering half-hardy birds were around such as Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, and Eastern Towhee. Not seen this year: Killdeer, Ring-necked Pheasant, Herring Gull, Eastern Phoebe, and Purple Finch.