2019 Delaware Reservoir Christmas Bird Count

Common Goldeneye - Photo Lisa Phelps

A Common Goldeneye naps in the frigid water - 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.

Great Blue Heron28
Trumpeter Swancw
Tundra Swan65
Canada Goose511
Am. Black Duck36
Ring-necked Duck1
Common Goldeneye1
duck sp?15
N. Harrier6
Sharp-shinned Hawk2
Cooper’s Hawk8
accipiter sp?1
Bald Eagle25
Red-shld. Hawk2
Red-tailed Hawk49
Buteo sp.2
Am. Kestrel19
Wild Turkeycw
Ring-necked Pheasant2
Bonaparte’s Gull175
Ring-billed Gull150
gull sp?7
Rock Pigeon290
Mourning Dove604
E. Screech Owl2
Gr. Horned Owl2
Barred Owl1
Short-eared Owl2
Belted Kingfisher10
Red-headed Woodpecker.9
Red-bellied Woodpecker111
Yellow-blld. Sapsucker1
Downy Woodpecker105
Hairy Woodpecker20
N. Flicker48
Pileated Woodpecker12
Horned Lark40
Blue Jay282
Am. Crow147
chickadee sp.79
Carolina Chickadee98
Tufted Titmouse88
White-br. Nuthatch125
Brown Creeper14
Carolina Wren40
Golden-cwnd. Kinglet20
E. Bluebird127
Am. Robin947
N. Mockingbird6
E. Starling1828
Cedar Waxwing121
Yellow-rumped Warbler3
Lapland Longspurcw
Am. Tree Sparrow171
Chipping Sparrow1
Field Sparrow12
Song Sparrow123
Swamp Sparrow1
White-thr. Sparrow70
White-cr. Sparrow28
sparrow sp.15
Dark-eyed Junco324
N. Cardinal310
Red-winged Blackbird2
Eastern Meadowlark1
House Finch182
Am. Goldfinch209
House Sparrow649
Total # species60
Total Individuals8788
Total Party Hours84.4
Total Party Miles455.2
hours driving39.7
hours walking44.7
miles driving411.6
miles walking43.6
Owling Hours4.9
Owling miles20.1
max # of parties12
min # of parties9