Posted by: atowhee | January 3, 2023

CHRISTMAS COUNTS REALLY COUNT

The Christmas Bird Count was founded in 1900 by Frank Chapman. It is the longest-lived effort of citizen science. Fun to be part of.
Some more images from our team’s day along Baker Creek watershed yesterday.
Phoebe enjoys warm air rising:

Two Fox Sparrows graveling for food:

More Yamhill Count birds:

Above: Hairy Woodpecker; Pacific Wren; Red-breasted Nuthatch; single towhee; double towhee; flicker pair; solitaire; Christmas goose survivors.

The dawn, and the day:

Summary of Salem count: The results of the Salem CBC have been tabulated.  The count was held on December 17th.  The temperatures were freezing (23 degrees) during the early part of the count but warmed up to 47 degrees in the afternoon.  We had 63 participants take part in the count. The total number of species was 107 which is about average for our count. 

We only had one count week bird, Horned Lark, but did observe two rare species for our count with a Clark’s Grebe and Northern Mockingbird.  Here is a recap of some of the highs and lows:

Great Egret: 16. Previous high 14 in 2018
Red-shouldered Hawk: 4, previous high 3 in 2013
Barn Owl: 7, previous high 3 in 2005
Downy Woodpecker: 109, previous high 99 in 2017
Black Phoebe: 15, previous high 10 in 2020
Steller’s Jay: 222, previous high 207 in 1983
Hermit Thrush: 11, previous high 8 in 2013

Tied with previous highs were Wild Turkey (16), Spotted Sandpiper (5) and Orange-crowned Warbler (2).

The lows included Eurasian Collared-Dove (44) previous low was 55 in 2013 and a tie for low of one for Hutton’s Vireo.

The key misses included Rough-legged Hawk, Tundra Swan, and Western Grebe.

Many thanks to our sector leaders and participants for their efforts. Also, special thanks to co-compilers Tim Johnson and Gretchen Johnson.  Looking forward to next year!

Mike Unger
Keizer, OR

Yamhill Valley CBC-NW quadrant, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 2, 2023
44 species

Canada Goose  3
Wood Duck  1
Mallard  10
Ring-necked Duck  57
Hooded Merganser  5
Common Merganser  2
California Quail  9
Pied-billed Grebe  2
Band-tailed Pigeon  45     single flock flying east from foothills at dawn
Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Mourning Dove  7
Anna’s Hummingbird  5
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Northern Harrier  1
Red-tailed Hawk  4
Belted Kingfisher  2
Red-breasted Sapsucker  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  12
American Kestrel  5
Black Phoebe  2
Steller’s Jay  7
California Scrub-Jay  21
American Crow  25
Black-capped Chickadee  31
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch  4
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Pacific Wren  4
European Starling  174
Townsend’s Solitaire  1     first in history of this CBC!
Varied Thrush  1
American Robin  260
House Sparrow  11
House Finch  2
Lesser Goldfinch  4
Fox Sparrow  9
Dark-eyed Junco  98
White-crowned Sparrow  2
Golden-crowned Sparrow  33
Song Sparrow  8
Spotted Towhee  9
Red-winged Blackbird  18

TULE LAKE CBC

Here is Kevin Spencer’s account of that count amidst a severe drought that driven off the usual wintering waterfowl.
“Heading down to Tule Lake today, January 2, 2023, at 4 am, with Dave Haupt, seemed the same as it had been for the last ten Christmas Bird Counts down there for me. We would be there to check for owls, then walk around the town of Tulelake for residential birds, and then head down into the Tule Lake refuge, mostly covering the “League of Nations”, the area of leased lands used for agricultural purposes, to mostly find and count raptors, waterfowl, blackbirds, horned larks and numerous sparrow species. But I knew this year would be quite different than all the years I had ever participated in this count, dating back to the early 1980s. This count was the first without water in both Sump 1A and 1B. I was expecting low numbers for birds and number of species. The numbers today could be compared to all the counts done at approximately the same time of year since 1979, the first Tule Lake CBC. At the end of this day, only 57 species were recorded, compared to a conservative average of about 85 species usually tallied for this count. The number of individual birds was dismally low too, compared to throngs of tens of thousands of waterfowl that usually “overwinter” at Tule Lake NWR.  Not a single “dabbling” duck was seen on the count this year. Those types of ducks include Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, and Northern Pintail. Yes, not a single Mallard was seen. The only diving ducks were five Common Goldeneyes, five Common Mergansers, and one lone male Ring-necked Duck. Not even one of the more common diving ducks, a Ruddy Duck, was seen today on this count. No American Coot was seen. Often numbering in the hundreds if not thousands for this count, there were none today. They are a favorite food for the Bald Eagle. It was not hard to know why Bald Eagle numbers were down. I did see some blackbird flocks, but their numbers were not close to the six, seven, or eight thousand birds in a single flock that I usually encounter. You know, the flocks of distant inky masses that shift and melt onto the landscape, in a blob of unison. No, their numbers were not there. With a lack of carcasses and carrion, Common Raven numbers were low too.

When Dave and I first arrived at about 5 am, and drove down the Lost River Road, eventually getting to the A Dike Road, I eventually got out of the truck to listen. It was then I really noticed the lack of life on the refuge. It was the quiet. Missing was the din of waterfowl. In the past I would hear them, from 5 or more miles away. The screaming, yelling, calling, into the night, by all of the tens of thousands of waterfowl, the swans, geese, and ducks, was missing. There was absolute silence. My thoughts of the count being impacted by the lack of water was now evident. That usual sound coming from the interior part of the refuge was so normal that its absence now was deafening to me. So, now, at the end of day, the numbers showed the impact of the absence of water on the refuge. I wondered if this day would be the new normal, and that my experiences of the past would never be had again.

Like all counts before this one, there would be an observation that would be remembered by all. Memories have included finding unusual birds by some previous participants who found this refuge an incredible place. Some memories of mine include: finding Eurasian Wigeons by Bruce Duell, Sage Thrashers, American Tree Sparrows, Snow Bunting, and Bohemian Waxwings by  Mike Robbins, or Long-billed Longspur (formerly McCown’s), and Gray-crowned Rosy Finch by Ray Ekstrom, or Swamp Sparrow by Alan Barron’s, or Mountain Quail by Dave Larson. Or, just spending the whole day out with Steve Summers back in 1983. I remember many of the unusual observations made by knowledgeable participants who would spend this one day a year counting birds in the Tule Lake count circle.

So, at 5 am, and just starting out, Dave and I drove down the Lost River refuge road and saw an owl standing on the road. It took off into the night. We speculated what owl it was but thought it didn’t seem like a Great Horned Owl, which both of us hadn’t seen on the ground like that. We saw another standing on the road, and this time saw a somewhat small owl with brown and buff colors. Turning onto the A Dike Road we saw groups of two and three crossing the road in front of us. We stopped and listened and heard Short-eared Owls. Some later flew right over the cab. We carefully counted 14 Short-eared owls over about three miles of the Lost River and A Dike Roads, adjacent to the now dry Tule Lake marsh. Having been out many times in search of owls at other times with Dave, it was quite uncommon for us to find just one or two owls but seeing and hearing 14 was amazing. We knew that it would be something to share with the other teams at the end of the day. But it would be topped. Another team was over on the Lower Klamath NWR, in a western part of the circle, and while they were out walking among dry and nearly leafless desert shrubs, seven Short-eared Owls exploded, leaping from their ground roost, and rattled the team of three. Amazed and wanting some more views they walked towards where they flew. Two more owls leapt from the vegetation. They had seen nine in all and witnessed firsthand the Short-eared Owl’s tendency towards communal roosting, where they find a place to spend the day, near each other.

So, at the end of the day, Tule Lake CBC had had its lowest species count, and likely the lowest individual numbers since the count began. At the same time, the twenty-three Short-eared Owls seen today may be the highest number seen during any North American CBC this year. That was encouraging since Short-eared Owl numbers have been in decline for some time. It’s this memory that might give one hope that water will soon fill Sumps 1A and 1B, and in turn support one of the amazing wetland areas in North America.

Thanks to this year’s participants: Dave Haupt, Shannon Rio, Steve Sheehy, Kevin McKereghan, Stacy Taeuber, Frank Lospalluto, and Kevin Spencer.

Kevin Spencer”


Responses

  1. […] For complete checklist and other CBC images, click here. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: