On December 15, 72 observers sponsored by CAS spent the day counting birds in different areas of Columbus. Relatively mild weather reduced the numbers of waterfowl, and a November freeze appeared to suppress numbers of lingering land birds. Fifteen teams were still able to push up totals of 74 species and 40,078 individual birds, with several species rare or new to the Count.
Count Date: December 15, 2019; 6:00 a.m. To 5:00 p.m. Temp. 30-38 ºF. Wind SW 0-3 mph Still water mostly open, moving water open. A.M. cloudy; P.M. overcast. Observers: 70 in the field in 14-15 parties, 2 at feeders. Total party hours: 135 (94 on foot, 40 in cars, 1 on bike, 2 owling). Total Party miles: 287 (117 on foot, 168 in cars, 2 on bike, 8 owling)
Pied-billed Grebe – 5; Double-crested Cormorant – 43; Great Blue Heron – 32; Mute Swan – 20; Trumpeter Swan – 2 (JM,BM,JF); Canada Goose – 1484; Wood Duck – 13; Black Duck – 58; Mallard – 820; MallardXBlack Duck – 1; Gadwall – 223; American Wigeon – 2; Ring-necked Duck – 14; Hooded Merganser – 188; Ruddy Duck – 2; Wild Turkey – 29; American Coot – 26; Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4; Cooper’s Hawk – 17; N. Harrier – 1; Red-shouldered Hawk – 5; Red-tailed Hawk – 53; Bald Eagle – 16; Peregrine – 1; Merlin – 10; American Kestrel – 5; Ring-billed Gull – 1254; Herring Gull – 2; Rock Dove –1395; Mourning Dove – 505; Great Horned Owl – 2; Barred Owl – 3; Belted Kingfisher – 13; Red-headed Woodpecker – 7; Red-bellied Woodpecker – 164; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 3; Downy Woodpecker – 157; Hairy Woodpecker – 24; N.Flicker – 47; Pileated Woodpecker – 17; Tree Swallow – 1 (JF,MH); Blue Jay – 355; American Crow – 264; Carolina Chickadee – 349; Tufted Titmouse – 113; White-breasted Nuthatch – 145; Brown Creeper – 14; Marsh Wren – 1 (JM,BM); Winter Wren – 1; Carolina Wren – 137; Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 2; Golden-crowned Kinglet – 18; Eastern Bluebird – 108; Hermit Thrush – 1; American Robin – 5930; Gray Catbird – 1 (LB,LP); N.Mockingbird – 14; European Starling – 22,583; Cedar Waxwing – 320; Yellow-rumped Warbler – 23; Northern Cardinal – 599; Eastern Towhee – 26; American Tree Sparrow – 16; Song Sparrow – 157; Swamp Sparrow – 6; White-throated Sparrow – 415; White-crowned Sparrow – 24; Dark-eyed Junco – 222; Red-winged Blackbird – 10; Common Grackle – 1; House Finch – 530; Purple Finch – 2; American Goldfinch – 232; Pine Siskin – 1; House Sparrow – 788
Totals: 74 species, 40,078 individuals
Birds seen Count Period, but not Count Day: Red-br.Merganser, Bufflehead, Common Yellowthroat; Chipping Sparrow
Mark Anstaett, Jenny Bowman, Susan Braunig, Ed & Sheila Bremmer, Linda Brenner, John & Gerry Brevoort, Rose Conrad, Bob & Sara Crist, Tim Daniel, Ken & Julie Davis, Amy Densborn, Alex Eberts, John Finn, Diana Fowler, Brad Gambill, Kandace Glanville, Michael Goldman, Jeff Grabmeier, Paul Graham, Kay Griesen, Julie Hallenbeck, Neena Harfmann, Deborah Hayhurst, Bill Heck, Corinna & Phoebe Honscheid, David Kelley, Jonathan Knape, Jennifer Kuehn, Cindy Lanese, Bruce Lindsay; Heather Luedecke, Karen & Frank Martens, Bernie Master, Jim McCormac, Dawn & Chris McCoy, Bob McNulty, Joe Meara, Karl Mechem, Janet Meier, Dick & Kathy Miller, Susan Miller, James Muller, Haruko Okada, Jason Parrish, Lori Patterson, Sam Pollock, Pam Raver, Robert Royse, Marcia Scott, Andy Sewell, Colleen Sharkey, Katelyn & Stacey Shelton, Darlene Sillick, Bruce Simpson, Shaune Skinner, Leslie Sours, Doug Szymkowiak, Rob Thorn (compiler), Pam Unger, Kai Victor, Carl & Karen Winstead, Stephanie West, Doug Whitman, Stephanie Williams
Columbus counters again found out that the CBC count day is almost the sum of the prior months. The Count Day was relatively mild, but the earlier freeze in November and the subsequent lack of serious cold weather worked their spell over local birds. No cold weather meant few diving ducks, which had their poorest showing in decades. However, we did manage to scrounge a few good waterfowl, including 2 Trumpeter Swans on a private quarry (Jim McCormac), 2 Ruddy Ducks above Griggs Dam (CS,JB,et al.), and another huge crowd of 200 Gadwall at the Sewage Treatment Plant (JF, et al.)
November’s early freeze zapped both insects and leaves, so that small foragers found little food and limited cover. This was reflected in low numbers of practically all small flock birds, but especially kinglets and sparrows. Sparrows had a dismal Count, with low numbers for all species, and misses on Chipping, Field, and Fox Sparrows. Despite this gloom, 2 out-of-place insectivores graced the Day: a rare Marsh Wren found at the Impound Lot marsh (JM) and a hard-to-believe Tree Swallow fluttering over the treatment plant outfall on the Scioto River (JF, et al.). Both were documented with decent photos, showing that almost anything can show up on a Count Day!
One group that seemed less affected by the strange weather were raptors. Most had decent numbers, and a few had extraordinary years. Continuing the recent trend, our Bald Eagle tally jumped upward to 16 birds. These opportunistic predators are now breeding in several spots within urban Columbus, and look to be an established part of our avifauna. Most startling was the bloom of Merlins that showed up Count Day. The 10 individuals found shatters the earlier record (4), and they showed up in many different places. At the very least, they seem to have acquired a taste for our urban Starlings.
Another group of birds, however, defied all the downward trends: the fruit-eaters. Robins, Starlings, Waxwings, Bluebirds, House Finches….they all had a good Count. Most were seen feasting on different berries unaffected by the freeze, mostly Callery Pears or Hackberries, both of which had strong fruit years. Our 108 Bluebirds was the all-time high, and the 5930 Robins was the 2nd highest total in the last 40 years. An out-of-season Gray Catbird found on the Blacklick Greenway (LB,LP) only added to the fun. With suburban neighborhoods, and their fruit-bearing yard- and street-trees, growing all around Columbus, this trend probably won’t stop anytime soon.