Horned Lark

We had a cold and breezy day, but were rewarded by quite a few interesting birds. The weather began at 22oF with a light snow and 5-10mph W wind. We had light snow flurries throughout the day. In my area we could avoid the wind most of the day by birding in wooded areas, or ravines. The high temperature was only 27. Bird activity was low but fairly constant.

A total of 32 field observers and 3 feeder counters contributed to our count. Our “effort” was somewhat typical, just over 80 party hours. Each party hour represents one hour in the field for a group of observers together.

Fewer hours were spent owling, and this effort yielded very few owl observations. One Eastern Screech Owl made its presence known by responding to my playback of a whinny call with his own. Other than that, the only owls detected were Barred Owls actually found during the day, one by Ben Warner and Lauren Blyth, and another found by Liz Neroni and Logan Dunn.

A very large number of Bald Eagles were reported. Even after removing likely duplicates, a total of 22 were counted.

Our total was 68 species, about average.

  • For the first time in many years we had many reports of the regionally declining Rusty Blackbird. A total of 19 individuals were tallied by 4 different parties.
  • Corinna and Phoebe Honscheid with Beth Lenoble found our only Trumpeter Swan, one of the Rusty Blackbirds, as well as 2 Field Sparrows which are quite uncommon in winter.
  • Ben & Lauren not only found that Barred Owl, they found a Wilson’s Snipe, a Red-shouldered Hawk, one of the Rusty Blackbirds and one of the 3 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers that were counted.
  • Tania Perry’s group (Cam Lee, Randy Zibell) found our only Rough-legged Hawk.
  • Adriana Losey’s group (Maria Losey, Kai Joaquin) found the only Tundra Swans (5).
  • Laura Kearns and Joseph Lautenbach found a flock of 14 Rusty Blackbirds as well as our only Brown-headed Cowbird and Common Grackle. They also found our only Common Mergansers (2) and one of our 4 Eastern Towhees.
  • Jim Peoples, Bernard Derr, and John Austin found our only Cedar Waxwings (5).
  • Dan Bobb’s large team (Gary & Karen Deighton, Todd, Hazel, and Silas Jolliff,) found a Double-crested Cormorant, most of our Hooded Mergansers (40), the only Sharp-shinned Hawk, and our only flock of Killdeer (12).
  • Kirsten Lehtoma and Steve Weate found, and nicely-documented, 3 Rusty Blackbirds.
  • Bob Klips and I found one of the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and our only 2 Purple Finches for the count.
  • Liz Neroni and Logan Dunn not only found the aforementioned Barred Owl, they found and photographed the only Hermit Thrush.
  • The greater Delaware team led by Amy Winningham (Goeff Winningham, Megan Shoemaker) found and photographed the Merlin which has been hanging out in near the Jay Martin Soccer Complex and had the unenviable task of carefully counting the flocks of Robins (611), Starlings (785), and House Sparrows (241) in town. This hard-working group tallied just over 25% of all the birds recorded on the day!

Thirteen of our counters made their best guess at the number of Horned Larks for the count prior to the Friday deadline. Most of the guesses were too pessimistic, because there was little snow cover in the fields to drive the larks to the roadsides. Nevertheless, we found 839 larks! My guess of 1,000 was closest, but I’m unsure if it is above board for me to be both the arbiter and winner.

1Double-crested Cormorant
40Great Blue Heron
5Tundra Swan
1Trumpeter Swan
498Canada Goose
108Mallard
44Hooded Merganser
2Common Merganser
11Northern Harrier
1Sharp-shinned Hawk
7Cooper’s Hawk
1Accipiter sp.
22Bald Eagle
3Red-shouldered Hawk
41Red-tailed Hawk
1Rough-legged Hawk
1Buteo sp.
1Merlin
19American Kestrel
12Killdeer
1Wilson’s Snipe
31Bonaparte’s Gull
143Ring-billed Gull
135Rock Pigeon
351Mourning Dove
1Eastern Screech Owl
2Barred Owl
7Belted Kingfisher
14Red-headed Woodpecker
96Red-bellied Woodpecker
3Yellow-billed Sapsucker
89Downy Woodpecker
14Hairy Woodpecker
39Northern Flicker
9Pileated Woodpecker
2woodpecker sp?
839Horned Lark
279Blue Jay
120American Crow
6chickadee sp.
134Carolina Chickadee
62Tufted Titmouse
2Red-breasted Nuthatch
117White-breasted Nuthatch
9Brown Creeper
33Carolina Wren
16Golden-crowned Kinglet
40Eastern Bluebird
1263American Robin
1Hermit Thrush
6Northern Mockingbird
5Cedar Waxwing
2203European Starling
4Eastern Towhee
269American Tree Sparrow
2Fox Sparrow
2Field Sparrow
75Song Sparrow
5Swamp Sparrow
229White-throated Sparrow
43White-crowned Sparrow
514Dark-eyed Junco
16Lapland Longspur
335Northern Cardinal
50Red-winged Blackbird
19Rusty Blackbird
1Common Grackle
1Brown-headed Cowbird
56blackbird sp?
2Purple Finch
193House Finch
68American Goldfinch
840House Sparrow
9615Total individuals
Delaware Reservoir CBC Totals