The 2023 Spring Bird Count on June 3 was quite an event this year with numerous records broken, or dare we say, shattered.  Many of our outing leaders reported that they were seeing large numbers of woodpeckers (such as Northern Flicker and Red-Bellied Woodpecker) and large numbers of flycatchers (such as Eastern Wood Peewee and Willow Flycatcher) during their events.  These Spring Bird Count data are a confirmation of those observations.

First, we had 13,228 observations. That is the highest total of observations since the start of our Spring Bird Count in 1986.  The total number of species observed also passed the record for the count.  This year we had 102 species observed. Our average is 93 species. Party hours came in at 168 which is the second highest total for the count.  The number of observers was 70 which is the third highest total for the count.

The ultimate questions when we see totals like this is whether there were that many birds out there (which is possible) and what influence the number of observers and hours has on the results.  What role is technology playing?  Is the use of new technology on smart phones, like Merlin, eBird, and various other apps making us better birders?

The following species had their highest totals ever:

  • 65 Great blue herons (Average is 20)
  • 161 Turkey vultures (Average is 11)
  • 2 Northern harriers (Average is
  • 11 Red-shouldered hawks (Average is 2)
  • 3 Broad winged hawks (Average is 1)
  • 9 Bald eagles(Average is 1)
  • 36 Hairy woodpeckers (Average is 15)
  • 121 Northern flickers (Average is 73)
  • 21 Pileated woodpeckers (Average is 5)
  • 135 Eastern wood peewees (Average 64)
  • 76 Willow flycatchers (Average is 24)
  • 104 Great crested flycatchers (Average is 43)
  • 102 Eastern bluebirds (Average is 36)
  • 1041 Gray catbirds (Average is 572)
  • 21 Brown thrashers (Average is10)
  • 12 Northern parulas (Average is 5)
  • 3 Magnolia warblers (Average is 0)
  • 8 Pine warblers (Average is 1)
  • 158 American redstarts (Average is 13).  Counters in Section 6 alone reported 53!  Sections 8 and 11 reported 20 or more.
  • 209 Common yellowthroats (Average is 128)
  • 6 Yellow-breasted chats (Average is 1). This ties the highest total for the count from years 1986, 1988, and 1996.
  • 561 Song sparrows (Average is 288)
  • 263 House finches (Average is 157)
  • 330 American goldfinches (Average is 175)
  • 268 House sparrows (Average is 119)

The following species had their second highest totals ever:

  • 18 Green herons (Average is 11)
  • 7 Eastern Screech owls (Average is 3)
  • 230 Red-bellied woodpeckers (Average is 127)
  • 7 Yellow-throated vireos (Average is 3)
  • 94 Field sparrows (Average is 47)
  • 199 Brown headed cowbirds (Average is 110)

Interesting Finds and Some Good News:

  • 5 American kestrels, our first observations since 2015.  We hope that this is a start of a comeback for this species.
  • 1 Common nighthawk.  This species had not been observed since 2003 and the only other observation was in 1999
  • 1 Alder flycatcher
  • 11 Cliff Swallows
  • 3 Grasshopper sparrows
  • 1 Black-throated green warbler, a species that hasn’t been observed since 2011
  • 1 Bobolink
  • After a population crash in 2019, Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice populations are finally recovering.  While still below average, their number a steadily improving each year.  This year we observed 84 Carolina Chickadees compared with only 25 in 2019  (Average is 124). We had 93 Tufted Titmice this year compared with only 27 in 2019 (Average is 117).

You can see the complete list here.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our annual Christmas Bird Count to be held on: Saturday, December 23, 2023

If you are in town for the holiday and want to help, please contact Vince Smith by December 18th to be assigned to a team. Beginning birders are welcome and will be assigned to a team with experienced members.