Sandhill Crane Soaring - Photo Earl Harrison


This year was another year with no post-count gathering, because of caution due to the spread of Covid-19. The field parties (12) were very similar to previous years. A total of 40 field observers participated, joined by 3 feeder counters. The weather was consistent, hovering around 35oF, with calm to light N wind for most of the day. It was overcast, but thankfully no precipitation. This year we had a few more waterfowl species than in the recent years. Highlights of the count included a group of Trumpeter Swans found by  Tania Perry’s party; a group of 4 Black Vultures found by Dan Bobb’s party; 3 Sandhill Cranes and a Northern Shrike reported by Andy Brown;  3 Winter Wrens found 1 each by 3 different parties; Ben Warner’s party found the only Northern Harrier, Catbird, and Fox Sparrow this year; Amy Winningham’s party found a Cackling Goose, 2 Hermit Thrushes, an American Pipit, and an Orange-crowned Warbler.

Red-headed Woodpecker - Photo Earl Harrison
Red-headed Woodpecker – Photo Earl Harrison


My party was joined by a group from ODNR including two leaders (Kendra Wecker, Chief ODW, and ODNR Director Mary Mertz) so it was particularly frustrating that our morning was very slow, bird wise. Almost no seed-eating birds at all, including the remarkable zero Dark-eyed Juncos counted by our party for the second year in a row!  Prior to these recent years we have always found flocks of seed eaters in several parts of our route which has not changed very much.  There was one notable change, because of the sale of the Liebert property on Beard Road (a park-like site which was a major stop for our group) we can no longer bird that area. The large mature beech forest there is slated for a housing development, and they have begun the destruction.  Our group’s highlight this year was that we found the only Red-headed Woodpeckers (5) tallied on the count.

Horned Lark - Photo Rajan Desai
Horned Lark – Photo Rajan Desai

Statistics and List of Species Found

The Delaware Reservoir Christmas Bird count (OHDR) has been conducted continuously since 1988. The mean number of species tallied is 62.4. This year the final species total of 73 was a record high for the Delaware count.  We have had a couple of years with 72 species, but we “eeked out” a record this time.  This year we counted 14,667 birds, which is a bit higher than the average of 12,500, but not near our high of 24,098 in 2010.  As has always been the case, these numbers include many European Starlings, Rock Pigeons, and House Sparrows. Those three introduced species comprise 53% of the total count this year.

218 Horned Larks were counted. Few people submitted guesses. The closest guess was 81, submitted by Amy Tovar, so she will be hosting the Horned Lark award trophy until next year.

species# counted
Great Blue Heron34
Trumpeter Swan11
Canada Goose593
Cackling Goose1
Wood Duck7
Lesser Scaup1
Hooded Merganser23
Black Vulture4
Turkey Vulturecw
Northern Harrier1
Sharp-shinned Hawk3
Cooper’s Hawk10
Accipiter sp?1
Bald Eagle17
Red-shouldered Hawk9
Red-tailed Hawk66
Buteo sp?1
American Kestrel32
Bonaparte’s Gull93
Ring-billed Gull45
Herring Gull1
gull sp?116
Rock Pigeon217
Mourning Dove600
Sandhill Crane3
Eastern Screech Owl3
Great Horned Owl5
Barred Owl4
Belted Kingfisher14
Red-headed Woodpecker.5
Red-bellied Woodpecker95
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker2
Downy Woodpecker104
Hairy Woodpecker26
Northern Flicker57
Pileated Woodpecker8
Horned Lark218
Blue Jay377
American Crow154
chickadee sp?14
Carolina Chickadee198
Tufted Titmouse75
Red-breasted Nuthatch.5
White-breasted Nuthatch100
Brown Creeper24
Carolina Wren52
Winter Wren3
Golden-crowned Kinglet27
Eastern Bluebird118
American Robin1551
Hermit Thrush2
Northern Mockingbird6
Gray Catbird1
American Pipit1
Cedar Waxwing250
European Starling6729
Northern Shrike1
Orange-crowned Warbler1
Yellow-rumped Warbler10
Eastern Towhee1
American Tree Sparrow169
Fox Sparrow1
Field Sparrow13
Chipping Sparrow2
Song Sparrow79
Swamp Sparrow4
White-throated Sparrow213
White-crowned Sparrow7
Dark-eyed Junco267
Northern Cardinal272
Red-winged Blackbird1
Rusty Blackbird2
Brown-headed Cowbird5
House Finch247
American Goldfinch364
House Sparrow790
Total Individuals14667
Total species73