The National Audubon Society has provided preliminary data for the 114th annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), which ran Dec. 5, 2013 through Jan. 5, 2014. Some 1,613 bird counts were conducted totaling 48,828,176 birds reported as of 7 a.m. CDT on Feb. 12, 2014. The real-time count continues and in-depth information is provided to Audubon members by request, but highlights from the CBC include:
From the east
Cursory reports show large numbers of geese, ducks and other waterfowl were counted but birders also reported rare sightings of endangered Plover, Pine Warbler, Pacific Wren, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Harris’s Sparrow.
In Manhattan’s Central Park, some 75 birders convened at 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2013 when 5,414 birds were counted representing 62 different species. Higher-than-average counts occurred for Snowy Owls due to this year’s unprecedented irruption and a typically high count of Canadian geese (455), sparrows (993) and iridescent green-headed mallards (497) were tallied. Central Park birders also reported seeing one each of a Snow Goose, Green-winged Teal, Bald Eagle, the often hard to spot American Woodcock and a blaze orange Baltimore Oriole.
Canadian Snow Goose photo by National Geographic
Crossing the bridge into Brooklyn, bird blogger Marie Winn reported that Hooded Merganser ducks were seen at an all-time high (109) on Dec. 15, 2013 but only one Ring-necked Pheasant was reported, constituting an all-time low. Some 15,723 Brant geese, 1,607 Canadian geese and 1,778 Greater Scaup ‘bluebill’ ducks were counted. There was a rare spotting of a Semipalmated Plover and a long-billed Wilson Snipe along with a high number of Snowy Owls, which is consistent with the unusual migration patterns and irruption this year.
On Dec. 28, 2013 milder weather brought 151 Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania members outdoors for the Pittsburgh Christmas Bird Count. Participants traveled 181 miles by foot and drove 250 miles and spotted 66 species totaling 46,577 birds. Of this, 32,913 American Crows were tallied in the Pittsburgh CBC.
From the west
In California, 2014 CBC activity is illustrated on a Google map showing some 137 California bird count circles, each covering about a 15-mile radius.
The Young Birder Network is popular in the “The Golden State” and the CBC4Kids project is in its eighth year. The Sonoma Facebook page reports participation of 33 children and 40 adults assembled into 7 teams. Together on Jan. 12, 2014 they counted 46 species and a total of 1,007 birds, up 637 birds from the previous year. Overall in 2010, the California CBC had 5,929 birders in the field with more than 300 species observed.
The Tucson Audubon Society holds its annual bird count in April each year and the data collected are listed by species, by project and publications, route and park monitoring programs. The site provides regular updates on rare and endangered bird sightings, such as the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Ruddy Ground Dove, and the relative of the mockingbird, the Gray Catbird, to name a few.
~Check out 94-year-old Chan Robbins’ video account of the recent Christmas Bird Count in Maryland