2015 Delaware CBC: Cold Day, Good Birds

Barred Owl - Photo Earl Harrison

This year’s Delaware Reservoir Christmas Bird Count (ODHR) was a great success. We had a return to “normal winter weather” just in time for the count. While it wasn’t as pleasant as the unseasonable warm weather we experienced earlier in the month, it provided more visible behavior in the local birds. I think that during warm winter weather birds are hard to find because they can meet their energy needs quickly, in a wide variety of places. In colder weather they forage longer to obtain the energy they need to stay warm, so we see more birds – at least that is my experience. A total of 71 species were tallied.

We started with two groups owling; my group began at 4:15am. Denise Falzone joined me and we found two Barred Owls near the US Forest Service Offices, these were also seen by Jim Peoples. They came right out into the open, and were a lifer for Denise. We also had 2 Eastern Screech Owls. When we met with Amy Tovar just before we began our daytime census, she reported another Eastern Screech owl had replied to her playback in our yard (which is in the circle). The day was cold (21-44o F), clear to partly cloudy with no precipitation, and relatively little wind until the afternoon.

Jim Peoples, Bernard Derr and John Austin’s “eastern shores area” group spotted a Short-eared Owl, which is a species that has become a local rarity in recent years.  The most unusual sighting was a small flock (6 males, 2 females) of Brewer’s Blackbirds observed for 30 minutes along Weiser Road by Dan Bobb and Tod and Silas Jollif. Their detailed report rules out other similar species. A number of observers tried to re-locate this flock in the days after the count with no success.

One key to the high species total was the open water.  A relatively large diversity of waterfowl were found including Northern Pintail, Wood Duck, American Black Duck, Mallard, American Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, and Northern Shoveler. A few additional waterfowl species were found during the count week by Kyle Davis and Sean Williams, including Gadwall, Common Goldeneye, Common and Red-breasted Merganser.

Bryan Sharp’s “Horned Lark guess” was 97, closest to the observed total of 104 Horned Larks; so Bryan wins the Horned Lark Award this year.

Here is a complete listing of the results:

Pied-billed Grebe 1
Double-crested Cormorant1
Great Blue Heron 18
Turkey Vulture 2
Tundra Swan cw
Canada Goose 338
Northern Pintail 2
Wood Duck 3
Mallard 367
American Black Duck 10
Green-winged Teal 1
Ring-necked Duck 40
Northern Shoveler 2
Hooded Merganser 18
Gadwall cw
Common Goldeneye cw
Common Merganser cw
Red-breasted Merganser cw
duck sp? 4
Northern Harrier 5
Cooper’s Hawk 9
Sharp-shinned Hawk cw
accipiter sp? 5
Bald Eagle 7
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 39
Merlin cw
American Kestrel 19
Virginia Rail cw
Ring-necked Pheasant 1
Wild Turkey CW
Killdeer 11
Bonaparte’s Gull 8
Ring-billed Gull 64
Herring Gull 1
gull sp? 4
Rock Pigeon 165
Mourning Dove 592
Eastern Screech Owl 4
Great Horned Owl 1
Barred Owl 4
Short-eared Owl 1
Belted Kingfisher 10
Red-headed Woodpecker 6
Red-bellied Woodpecker 86
Downy Woodpecker 124
Hairy Woodpecker 13
Northern Flicker 36
Pileated Woodpecker 4
woodpecker sp? 2
Horned Lark 104
Blue Jay 173
American Crow 183
chickadee sp? 121
Carolina Chickadee 66
Tufted Titmouse 59
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 99
Brown Creeper 10
Carolina Wren 26
Marsh Wren cw
Golden-crowned. Kinglet 24
Eastern Bluebird 39
American Robin 2183
Northern Mockingbird 6
Cedar Waxwing 67
European Starling 2411
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 1
Common Yellowthroat cw
American Tree Sparrow 233
Field Sparrow 4
Fox Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 57
Swamp Sparrow 12
White-throated Sparrow 149
White-crowned Sparrow 11
Dark-eyed Junco 294
Lapland Longspur 3
Northern Cardinal 282
Common Grackle 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 11
Brewer’s Blackbird* 8
Rusty Blackbird 2
Red-winged Blackbird 44
House Finch 196
American Goldfinch 335
House Sparrow 1054
total individuals 10,298
species 71
observers 41

party Hours on Foot 61.4
party Hours by Car 39.2
total Party Hours 100.6
party Miles on Foot 46.1
party Miles by Car 481.5
total Party Miles 527.6
owling party miles 20.6
owling party hours 4.6