Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Christmas Count Tally Released
January 5, 2008
Steve Grinley

     As promised, I will share with you the results of The Newburyport Christmas Bird Count, which was held on Sunday, December 23, as compiled and reported by Tom Young of Merrimack, New Hampshire. The count dates back to 1938, so it reflects some 70 years of data.

     The weather cooperated, as it was a mostly overcast day with temperatures between 32 and 45 F, light winds, and snow depths between 12 and 15 inches. The Count recorded 109 species and 1 count-week species (snow goose). Teams of birders, and individuals reporting on their backyard feeders, counted the numbers of birds seen during the day, all within the 15 mile radius circle. The number of participants was down, due mostly to commitments to other Counts that were rescheduled (due to storms) to the same day. As a result, it was particularly helpful that folks reported their yard birds for the Count, and it was much appreciated.

     Mostly average numbers of ducks and other water birds were counted, highlighted by a new all-time high of 144 common loons. The highest duck numbers were, of course, black ducks totaling 2,015, eclipsing mallard totals of 1336. Four great blue herons were found and 2 sanderlings, 3 purple sandpipers and 26 dunlin were the only shorebirds.

     Raptors were plentiful, with new all-time highs reached or tied for Cooper’s hawks (16), merlin (6), and peregrine falcons (2). Ten bald eagles were counted, and their numbers are climbing since the Count, as 8 were found in one tree near the pumping station this past Wednesday. A red-shouldered hawk was found during the Count, but no kestrel. Red-tailed hawks topped the numbers with 54.

     Two turkey vultures were seen on the Count, as this bird continues to over-winter in small numbers. Only 1 pheasant was found, but 59 wild turkeys were counted.

     Great-horned owls topped the owls at 21, followed by 18 screech owls. Two barred owls were discovered and single long-eared, short-eared and snowy owls were found. 

     An all-time high of 37 red-bellied woodpeckers were counted compared to 30 hairy woodpeckers and 184 downy woodpeckers. Flickers totaled 37, and an all-time high count of 3 pileated woodpeckers were found. Only the second yellow-bellied sapsucker in the Count’s seventy years was discovered.

     Of the more common birds, 854 blue jays, 511 American crows, 859 chickadees, 394 titmice, 10 red-breasted nuthatches and 169 white-breasted nuthatches were counted. An all-time high 44 Carolina wrens were reported along with 2 winter wrens and 2 marsh wrens. Robins totaled 829, bluebirds 48, cardinals 335. Three catbirds and 66 mockingbirds were recorded. Starlings numbered 18,542!

     The influx of northern species resulted in an all-time high of 73 Bohemian waxwings (only the 2nd record in the Count’s history-1 in 1995). A total of 547 cedar waxwings were counted. Five northern shrikes were found. A new all-time high count of 435 common redpolls were recorded and 1 hoary redpoll was found, only the second record in Count history. Two evening grosbeaks, 26 pine grosbeaks, 6 red crossbills, 78 purple finches and 275 house finches and 490 goldfinches rounded out the winter finches that were recorded.

     I would like to thank, again, those of you who participated by calling or sending in your yard bird counts that contributed to the success of this year’s Christmas Count. Thanks, too, to Tom Young and his sector leaders for coordinating this event again this year.

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
Celebrating 2
4 years of service to the birding community! 
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