Near the end of each year, Riveredge coordinates a Christmas Bird Count, where volunteer counters go out into the field or even watch at their own home feeders, documenting every bird they can spot and identify. Ultimately, this data, and similar data from all around the country, is reported to the National Audubon Society, fueling the longest-running community science bird project and directly impacting Audubon and other conservation organizations’ work. We thought the Riveredge community might be interested to know the results too! Below, a recap of the results from Mary Holleback, Riveredge’s Adult Programs Manager, including some exciting news about a first-time appearance on the count! For a detailed list of every bird spotted, you can also click here.
Want to learn more about the Christmas Bird Count and tons of other bird research efforts at Riveredge over many decades? The Noel J. Cutright Bird Club is featuring Mary, and other Riveredge staff and volunteers involved in these efforts in their monthly meeting on Tuesday, February 6th. Come enjoy this free presentation and learn more about the Bird Club at the same time!
Light snow fell overnight making driving a little challenging, never the less the annual Riveredge/Newburg Christmas Bird Count (CBC) held on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 was a big success. Together, 60 field counters and 36 feeder watchers saw a total of 76 species and 18,428 individual birds on the count. Our ten year average number of species is 71 so we had an above average count. Over the 48 year history of our count we’ve broken 70 or more species nineteen times.
Data reports are still trickling in but here are a few preliminary figures. Only one of each of the following species was found: great blue heron, wood duck, redhead, peregrine falcon, merlin (1 seen each of the past 3 yrs.), glaucous gull, Eurasian collared dove (1st since 2002), red-headed woodpecker (1st since 2012), hermit thrush, gray catbird (1st since 2008), fox sparrow and brown-headed cowbird. A single winter wren and two Carolina wrens were recorded which is the 1st time both have been seen in the same count since 2013.
Winter visitors were also somewhat sparse in comparison to other years. Only one redpoll and northern shrike, eight snow buntings, 48 horned larks and 111 pine siskins were reported. No longspurs or crossbills were seen. If you do see any red crossbills researchers at Cornell are asking people to use their iPhones to record their flight calls and send them in for spectrogram analysis so that they can track the movement of the different crossbill “call types” around North American. Here’s the link – http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/crossbills-of-north-america-species-and-red-crossbill-call-types.
For the first time ever two snowy owls were observed in our circle – one near the Cedarburg Bog (in the AM) and another near the West Bend Airport (in the PM). Since neither bird was all white they were most likely juveniles or females. Snowy owls are irruptive predatory wanderers that breed in the Arctic and migrate south periodically. In irruption years most of the owls that are reported are juveniles which suggests that unusually successful breeding (large brood sizes) combined with declining food supplies (mostly lemmings) may have prompted them to push south in search of better hunting grounds. Thanks to sponsorship from numerous Wisconsin environmental organizations, six snowy owls will be outfitted with radio transmitters so their movements can be tracked this winter. Check out the Project SNOWstorm (https://www.projectsnowstorm.org/) website for tracking information.
We saw the highest number in 10 years of Canada geese (5503) & ruffed grouse (3) and highest number ever of northern goshawks (5) & rough-legged hawks (28). Bald eagles (6) also made a good showing. Two species whose population sizes should be on our “watch list” for next year are the great horned owl (lowest # in 10 yrs.) and bufflehead (1st time not seen in 10 years).
Thanks again for participating. Please join us again for the 2018 Christmas Bird Count on Sat. December 15, 2018. Start recruiting your friends and neighbors to help you now!
Happy New Year & happy birding,
Adult Programs Manager