Posted by: atowhee | February 22, 2008

Backyard Bird Count, 2008

Oregon and the Rogue Valley Area both did well on the recent Backyard Bird Count (BBC).  It was conducted across North America over President’s Day weekend, Feb. 15-18.  It’s sponsored annually by Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Counters from across Oregon totalled 210 species, making Oregon #6 among all the states and provinces reporting.  Most species: Texas at 332.  Then came California 308, Florida 269, Arizona 243 and Georgia 220.  Oregon nosed out Washington which had 204.  The 2008 total was Oregon’s second-best ever.  Back in 2005 the state topped the 200 mark for the first time, with 213 and that’s still Oregon’s high for the BBC.  KIt has topped 200 every year since ’05.

Rarities in Oregon: only one Bohemian Waxwing counted.  That’s less than the state’s two Blue-winged Teal or the two Gyrflacon.  There was only one Barred Owl counted and it was not Eleanor in Medford. Common birds in Oregon included thousands of Cackling and Canada Geese.  Most often reported in the state: Dark-eyed Junco, on 869 checklists.  This is in keeping with previous counts.  Juncos were #1 in ’07 and all the way in 1998 on the first BBC.

Next most commonly reported in Oregon: Black-capped Chickadee on 589 lists,  American Robin 587, Western Scrub-jay 559, House Finch 519.  The five most frequently reported species nationally: 1) Northern Cardinal  2) Mourning Dove   3) Dark-eyed Junco   4) Downy Woodpecker  5) American Goldfinch.

The top five species, nationally, in terms of abundance: 1) Snow Goose   2) Canada Goose  3) Starling  4) Common Grackle   5) American Crow.   I suspect we carnivores should be eating goose for Thanksgiving, not turkey. 

Portland, of course, had the most checklists submitted and was the only Oregon location with over 100 species reported.  Grant’s Pass was #7 among Oregon locations with 25 checklists.  Ashland was #8 with 22 checklists.  Klamath Falls had 20, Medford 19 and Jacksonville 7.  Species reported:  Grant’s Pass with 79, Medford 75, Ashland 63 and Klamath Falls 61. 

Grant’s Pass reported some birds not widely seen in the state: Cinnamon Teal, Rough-legged Hawk, Rufous Hummingbird and Blue Jays (2).  Ashland reported the state’s only Williamson’s Sapsucker, also a Blue Jay(!)*, Pinyon Jay and Sandhill Cranes.  Medford’s unusual birds included Ross’s Geese, Short-eared Owls, American Bittern, American Pipit.  Medford’s only two Pipits were found by Towhee and friends as we birded for the Short-eared Owls.  Our Say’s Phoebe at Medford Airport was one-third of the state’s total.  The owls were six of the entire state’s fifteen.

Kate and I racked up 150 Sandhill Cranes on a sunny President’s Day walk at Emigrant Lake. That was more than a third of the state’s total.  On that walk we also had one of only eight White-tailed Kites seen in the state, and 30% of all Oregon’s reported Lewis’s Woodpeckers (3 out of 10).  Four more were reported from nearby Medford, giving this small area 70% of the state’s count for ’08.

Overall our two Pipits in Medford were only first reported, another thirty finally made it onto the Oregon count.

* Blue Jays?  Yes, I noticed that.  This is “citizen science” after all.  Not sure they’ll get past the records committee.


  1. Hi there –
    We’re not very active in the birding world here in Ashland, but we have seen this evening a small owl that appears to be about 9-10″ tall. There are 2 of them and they appear to be nesting in our very large oak tree. Can you shed any light on what kind of owl it might be?


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