Common Goldeneye - Photo Lisa Phelps

We had cool (28-32 F) gloomy (overcast) weather on the count day, water relatively high, with plenty of open water, only partly frozen on lakes/ponds. Wind varied from calm to 14mph.  A total of 42 observers participated (38 in field parties and 4 watching feeders).

We detected a somewhat low diversity of waterfowl, but there was a Common Goldeneye seen by both Jim Peoples’ eastern shores group as well as Dan Bobb’s western shores group. The western shores group also saw a single Ring-necked Duck. Ben Warner and Lauren Blyth had a good group of American Black Ducks (35) as well as 240 Mallards and two likely American Black Duck/Mallard hybrids.

A total of 65 Tundra Swans were reported, by far the highest number ever for this count (previous high 11 in 2013), but the pair of Trumpeter Swans spotted earlier in the week failed to show for the count day. We tallied a record high 111 Red-bellied Woodpeckers. This year more parties reported Pileated Woodpeckers than ever before (12 individual birds, by 6 parties).

We also tallied the second lowest number of Horned Larks ever (40). The only lower year was back in 2014 when 37 were seen. Open fields were snow-free, and in these conditions few are seen because they are so inconspicuous, perfectly matching their preferred background habitat. My pessimistic guess of 88 was the closest, so I guess I’ll be keeping the beautiful “horned lark award” at home this year.

The total of 127 Eastern Bluebirds reported just nudged out our record high last year of 126. Both recent years are well above our average of 54 individuals.

As was true last year, 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. The total (171) is the second lowest ever. There were 12 lingering Field Sparrows and even one Chipping Sparrow, both unusual in winter.

For the second year in a row we saw many White-breasted Nuthatches (125) compared to the average of 75. We detected a paucity of blackbirds, considering that it wasn’t all that cold. Craig Flockerzie’s Alum Creek north, and Dan Fink’s Eastern Shores north groups both had single Red-winged Blackbirds, and Kirsten Lehtoma’s Refuge North group had a single Eastern Meadowlark. No groups reported cowbirds or grackles.

Our total of 40 Carolina Wrens was above the average of 29 but well below our high of 87 last year. In addition to the Trumpeter Swans mentioned above, Wild Turkeys and Lapland Longspurs were detected during the “count week” but not on the count day.

Our final total was 60 species, equal to our overall average, with 8,788 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.

Species Totals
Great Blue Heron 28
Trumpeter Swan cw
Tundra Swan 65
Canada Goose 511
Am. Black Duck 36
Mallard 365
Ring-necked Duck 1
Common Goldeneye 1
duck sp? 15
N. Harrier 6
Sharp-shinned Hawk 2
Cooper’s Hawk 8
accipiter sp? 1
Bald Eagle 25
Red-shld. Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk 49
Buteo sp. 2
Am. Kestrel 19
Wild Turkey cw
Ring-necked Pheasant 2
Bonaparte’s Gull 175
Ring-billed Gull 150
gull sp? 7
Rock Pigeon 290
Mourning Dove 604
E. Screech Owl 2
Gr. Horned Owl 2
Barred Owl 1
Short-eared Owl 2
Belted Kingfisher 10
Red-headed Woodpecker. 9
Red-bellied Woodpecker 111
Yellow-blld. Sapsucker 1
Downy Woodpecker 105
Hairy Woodpecker 20
N. Flicker 48
Pileated Woodpecker 12
Horned Lark 40
Blue Jay 282
Am. Crow 147
chickadee sp. 79
Carolina Chickadee 98
Tufted Titmouse 88
White-br. Nuthatch 125
Brown Creeper 14
Carolina Wren 40
Golden-cwnd. Kinglet 20
E. Bluebird 127
Am. Robin 947
N. Mockingbird 6
E. Starling 1828
Cedar Waxwing 121
Yellow-rumped Warbler 3
Lapland Longspur cw
Am. Tree Sparrow 171
Chipping Sparrow 1
Field Sparrow 12
Song Sparrow 123
Swamp Sparrow 1
White-thr. Sparrow 70
White-cr. Sparrow 28
sparrow sp. 15
Dark-eyed Junco 324
N. Cardinal 310
Red-winged Blackbird 2
Eastern Meadowlark 1
House Finch 182
Am. Goldfinch 209
House Sparrow 649
Total # species 60
Total Individuals 8788
Total Party Hours 84.4
Total Party Miles 455.2
hours driving 39.7
hours walking 44.7
miles driving 411.6
miles walking 43.6
Owling Hours 4.9
Owling miles 20.1
max # of parties 12
min # of parties 9