Every year for the past 30 years a group of dedicated naturalists have ventured out during the holiday season to conduct a “Christmas Bird Count” in and around Delaware, Ohio. The count is one of many (thousands) around the world and organized by the National Audubon Society. Each count is conducted in a specified 15 mile diameter circle. In our area the count was first organized by Sally Waterhouse and Jed Burtt (deceased). I have been the compiler for the past 6 years.
This year the count was held on Sunday 16 December. There were 2 days of rain, some heavy, before the count day, and water was high with plenty of “standing water” none frozen. Weather on count day was cloudy with some breaks, cool (39-43oF), dank, some drizzle reported, little wind in the early morning increasing during the day, variable 1-10 mph. We had a total of 41 observers. Our count extended from 04:30 to 17:30 (5:30 pm).
We detected a very low diversity of waterfowl, which seemed odd for a year with open water and relatively mild temperatures. Relatively few sparrows were seen by most groups (especially American Tree Sparrows). Some groups reported reasonable numbers of American Tree Sparrows, but many groups reported few or even none of this normally common winter visitor which nests in the Arctic. The total (299) was the 7thlowest ever. We saw the greatest number of Blue Jays ever (510), the average for the previous 29 years is 188. We also set records for the most Tufted Titmouse (112) and White-breasted Nuthatch (134) compared to the averages of 56 and 75 respectively. We also had the 2nd highest number of Golden-crowned Kinglets with 81; the average is 20. Megan Shoemaker’s group found a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, which has only been seen on seven previous counts here.
We detected a paucity of blackbirds, considering that it wasn’t all that cold. Our total of 87 Carolina Wrens was the second largest ever (we had 88 back in 2006). The average number is 29. Two species (Sandhill Crane, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker) were detected during the “count week” but not on the count day.
Our final total was 65 species, a bit above average (60), with 9,474 individuals which was well below the average of 12,553 individuals. I thank everyone for their effort in conducting this annual census, I hope you enjoyed the day.