2018 Columbus CBC Beset by Strange Weather Cycles

Gadwall Lifting Off - Photo Kev Chapman

Count Summary

On December 16, 74 observers sponsored by Columbus Audubon spent the day counting birds in different areas of Columbus.  Relatively mild weather reduced the numbers of waterfowl, but a cold November and a torrential rainstorm the prior day suppressed numbers of lingering landbirds.  Seventeen teams were still able to push up totals of 77 species and  23,828 individual birds, with several species rare or new to the Count.

Count Date: December 16; 6:00 a.m. To 5:00 p.m.     Temp. 39-45 ºF.  Wind SW 0-3 mph   Still water mostly open, moving water open.  A.M. cloudy;  P.M. overcast.  Observers: 72 in the field in 14-20 parties, 2 at feeders.   Total party hours:  123 (104 on foot,  18 in cars, 1 on bike, 2 owling).   Total Party miles:  330 (115 on foot,  212 in cars, 4 on bike, 4 owling)

Species Totals

Pied-billed Grebe – 5;  Double-crested Cormorant – 24;  Great Blue Heron – 48;  Black-cr.Night Heron – 1;  Mute Swan – 25;  swan sp. – 1;  Canada Goose – 2859; Wood Duck – 6;  Black Duck – 89;  Mallard – 724;  MallardXBlack Duck – 1; N. Shoveler – 1;  Blue-winged Teal – 5 (B&LD);  Gadwall – 162;  American Wigeon – 1;  Ring-necked Duck – 19;  Hooded Merganser – 105;  Wild Turkey –  48;  Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2;  Cooper’s Hawk – 32;  Red-shouldered Hawk – 8;  Red-tailed Hawk – 62;  Bald Eagle – 10;  Peregrine – 2;  Merlin – 4;  American Kestrel – 7;  Ring-billed Gull – 108;  Herring Gull – 10;  Rock Dove –1480;  Mourning Dove – 782;  Great Horned Owl – 3;  Barred Owl – 3;  Belted Kingfisher – 23;  Red-headed Woodpecker – 26;  Red-bellied Woodpecker – 194;  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 7;  Downy Woodpecker – 222;  Hairy Woodpecker – 19;  N.Flicker – 52;  Pileated Woodpecker – 13;  E.Phoebe – 1 (C&PH);  Blue Jay – 456;  American Crow – 213;  Carolina Chickadee – 429;  Tufted Titmouse – 135;  White-breasted Nuthatch – 202;   Red-breasted Nuthatch – 11;  Brown Creeper – 34;  House Wren – 1 (B&LD);  Winter Wren – 4;  Carolina Wren – 192;  Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 3;  Golden-crowned Kinglet – 82;  Eastern Bluebird – 77;  Hermit Thrush – 1; American Robin – 1406;  N.Mockingbird – 22;  European Starling – 9,335;  Cedar Waxwing – 128;  Yellow-rumped Warbler – 18;  Northern Cardinal – 804;  Eastern Towhee – 16;  Chipping Sparrow – 3;  American Tree Sparrow – 45;  Field Sparrow – 1;  Song Sparrow – 193;  Swamp Sparrow – 13;  Lincoln’s Sparrow – 1 (KS);  Eastern Fox Sparrow – 4;  White-throated Sparrow – 540;  White-crowned Sparrow – 9;  Dark-eyed Junco – 372;  Red-winged Blackbird – 245;  Common Grackle – 1;  House Finch – 496;  Purple Finch – 4;  American Goldfinch – 313;  Pine Siskin – 18;  House Sparrow – 820

Totals:   77 species,  23,830  individuals

Birds seen Count Period, but not Count Day:  Gr.White-fronted Goose,  Snow Goose,  Bufflehead,  Nashville Warbler,  Pine Warbler

Observers

Charlie Bombaci, Jenny Bowman, Susan Braunig, Linda Brenner, John & Gerry Brevoort, Tim Daniel, Ken & Julie Davis, Brad & Lindsay Deering, Jalyn Deveraoux, Alex Eberts,  John Finn, Tyler Ficker, Diana Fowler,  Brad Gambill, Kandace Glanville, Michael Goldman, Jeff Grabmeier, Paul Graham, Kay Griesen, Nina Harfmann,  Nina Hawranick, Bill Heck, Corinna & Phoebe Honscheid, Becky & Mike Jordan, David Kelley, Jonathan Knape,  John Koon, Jennifer Kuehn,  William Kinkead,  Helen Lindsay, Doreen Linzell; Heather Luedecke, Karen & Frank Martens, Bernie Master,  Jim McCormac,  Dawn & Chris McCoy,  Bob McNulty, Joe Meara, Dick & Kathy Miller, James Muller, Jason Parrish, Lori Patterson, Sam Pollock, Pam Raver, Robert Royse, Dan Sanders, Andy Sewell, Colleen Sharkey, Katelyn & Tim Shelton, Darlene Sillick, Bruce Simpson, Shaune Skinner, Leslie Sours, Gene Stauffer, Larissa Swonger, Emily Sypolt, Rob Thorn (compiler), Pam Unger, Kai Victor, Carl & Karen Winstead, Stephanie West, Doug Whitman, Marlene Woo-Lun

Details

Columbus counters found out that any CBC is more than just the day it occurs – it’s colored by much of the preceding weeks and months.  The moderate temperatures of the Count Day stood in marked contrast to the cold temperatures of November and early December, and the dry CBC belied the heavy rainfall that had occurred just the prior day.   These conflicting strands of past and present seemed to melt away birds, and our species and individual totals were well below recent years’.  Despite mostly open water, it was one of the most feeble counts for waterfowl in recent memory, with low numbers of dabbling ducks and an almost complete absence of diving ducks.  Despite this, we did scrounge up some star waterfowl, including a count-week Greater White-fronted Goose (Bob Royse), 5 Blue-winged Teal (Brad & Lindsay Deering), and an eye-popping 162 Gadwall, most of which were in the Jackson Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant (John Finn).

Raptors turned in a respectable performance, with the 133 total better than most of the prior 10 years.  Leading the charge were an impressive 32 Cooper’s Hawks – nearly every team had 1 or 2.   Also noteworthy were 8 Red-shouldered hawks and 10 Bald Eagles, with the latter being found along every rivercourse in the circle.  4 Merlin and 2 Peregrines were near or tied our all-time highs.  But open-country raptors continued their disappearing act, with only 7 American Kestrels, and no Harriers or Rough-legged hawks.

For landbirds, it was a good count if you liked woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Kinglets, and Sparrows.  All woodpecker totals were healthy, and 26 Red-headed Woodpeckers was a modern high, led by 20 found by the Blendon Woods Team at the new Little Turtle Ravines section.  An Eastern Phoebe at Blendon Woods (m.ob.) was only our second ever on the CBC, while a House Wren at 3-Creeks was our first record since 1972 (Brad & Lindsay Deering).  Most landbirds had low totals, with the unusual exceptions of Creepers and both species of Kinglets; in fact, our 82 Golden-crowned Kinglets was an all-time high.  Even though Sparrows were low in number, their diversity was good, with 11 species highlighted by 4 Fox Sparrows, 3 Chipping Sparrows, and our second-ever Lincoln’s Sparrow, found at Blacklick Woods (Katelyn Shelton).  Some great birds showed up only just after the Count, making it to Count Week, including a Pine Warbler at Greenlawn Cemetery and a Nashville Warbler at the OSU wetlands.