Our annual Christmas Bird Count took place on Sunday, December 26, 2021. We observed 78 species and 20,254 birds. Overall it appears that the mild weather in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic kept a few unexpected species around and also did not push any northern species south.
Here are some highlights:
- We had 324 Turkey Vultures (Average is 106), which was the highest total ever for the count!
- Hooded Mergansers continue to make a good showing with 39 birds, well above our average of 12. This was the second-highest total ever for the count.
- Bald Eagles continue to make a great showing with 15 birds tying the highest count ever, all within the last 4 years. One question is how many of these are our resident birds and how many are migrants from further north.
- Red-shouldered Hawks continue to show an increase. We had 8 birds, which is the second highest ever. Our average is 2.
- Merlins have shown up every year since 2012. This year we had 3 birds. Our average is 1.
- Peregrine Falcon has also shown up every year since 2012, with 1 to 3 birds being observed. This year we had a single bird.
- One Short-eared Owl, our first observation for the CBC.
- Belted Kingfisher with 33 birds tied 2019 for the highest total. Our average is 23.
- Red-bellied Woodpeckers continue to do well with 236 birds. Our average is 135.
- Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers came in with 46 birds (Average is 15), the highest total ever and what feels like an upward trend. This may represent a climate-related shift with a greater numbers of birds lingering longer in our region and being picked up by our count.
- Pileated Woodpeckers came in with 18 birds, which is second highest for the count and similar to last year’s highest count of 21. Our average is 5. This species first showed up in 1991 and was sporadic until 2004 with 6 birds. While there have been off years, the species has generally been seen double digits since 2008.
- Common Raven came in with the 2nd highest total ever with 11 birds. Our average is 1.
- Brown Creepers did very well with 33 birds and the second highest total since 2013, when we had 45. Our average is 24.
- Winter Wrens also did well with 22 birds observed for the 2nd highest total ever for the count. Our average is 7.
- Ruby-crowned Kinglet with 35 birds was the highest ever recorded for our count. Our average is 7. The large numbers of brown creepers, winter wrens, and ruby-crowned kinglets may represent the mild winter in the run up to the count.
- Eastern Bluebirds did very well, recording the 3rd highest total for the count with 235 birds. Our average is 118.
- Hermit Thrush also did well with 15 birds observed making it the highest total ever for the count. Our average is 4.
- American Robins also did well with 1949 birds making for the 5th highest total ever. Our average is 1195.
- Yellow-rumped Warblers with a tally of 149 birds was the highest total ever for the count. Our average is 45.
- Eastern Towhees were hanging around with 23 birds observed. Our average is 6. This is the 3rd highest total ever.
- Chipping Sparrow reached the highest total ever for the species with 33 birds. Our average is 2.
- White-throated Sparrows with 1539 birds was the 2nd highest total from last year’s top count of 1645. Our average is 908.
- Common Grackles bucked the recent trend by showing up in large numbers. We had 466 birds and our average is 301.
- This year there were zero Snow Geese. Some were around for the count week though they never showed up on count day.
- Mallards came in at 184 birds, which is the lowest count since 1999 and the 3rd lowest count ever. This may reflect the mild winter with little push from cold northern states this year, however we should keep an eye on Mallards since they show a decline 4 years in a row. Our average is 500.
- The non-native Ringed-necked Pheasant has been missing since 2007.
- Kildeer has been absent since 2016.
- Eastern Screech Owl (18; avg 24 ) and Great-horned Owl were down (6; avg 12).
- Carolina Chickadees have not come back from their 2018 decline. We had 130 birds and our average is 400. The same downward trend was seen for Tufted Titmouse. We had 74 birds, which is way below our average of 237.
- One Red-breasted Nuthatch is the only irruptive species observed for this year’s count.
- Northern Mockingbird came in at 38 birds. They have been trending downward now for many years. Our average is 91.
- We had 8 American Tree Sparrows and our average is 28. This species has been trending downward since 2009.
- There were no Purple Finches or Pine Siskins
Many of these species most likely represent birds lingering from the mild weather.
- Two Northern Pintails
- One Eastern Phoebe, which has not been seen on our CBC since 2014
- One Fish Crow
- Three Gray Catbirds
- One Brown Thrasher
- One Orange-crowned Warbler
- Two Pine Warblers
- One Common Yellowthroat. The last observation of a COYE on the CBC was in 1997.
You can see the complete list here.
Our Spring Bird Count is Saturday, June 4, 2022. Beginning birders are welcome to participate and will be assigned to a team with experienced members.