Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Few Surprises During Christmas Bird Count
December 28, 2013
By Steve Grinley

     The Newburyport Christmas Bird Count was held last Sunday amid drizzle and foggy conditions. The complier for the Count, Tom Young of Merrimack, New Hampshire, released the following preliminary report:

     “The 76th Newburyport Christmas Bird Count was conducted on Sunday, December 22 in rather poor weather. Visibility out to sea was severely hindered by clouds and wave action, while inland an intermittent rain made for less-than-ideal birding. Consequently, the total number of species dropped sharply from last year’s record-tying 121 to 99, meaning that the count failed to break the “century” mark for only the 4th time in the last 20 years. 

     “But quite a few common birds were observed in record numbers, while several unusual species were seen: Eastern Phoebe (4th record in the count’s history), a record-tying 3Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (6th record,although it is now found almost annually on the count), a record-tying 2 Common Ravens (ditto), a count-week Pine Warbler [thanks to the report from a customer telling me of one visiting her suet feeder](6 previous records on the count), Chipping Sparrow (7th record), and a Lincoln’s Sparrow documented with photos (only the 3rd record).

     “Here are the [still technically unofficial] results [cw=count week]:

     “Snow goose 2,Canada goose 2118,Mute swan 9,Gadwall 56, American black duck 693, Mallard 1437, Northern pintail 21, Canvasback cw, Greater scaup 21, Lesser scaup 1, Common eider 404, Surf scoter 1, White-winged scoter 49, Black scoter 1, Long-tailed Duck 42, Bufflehead 161, Common goldeneye 157, Hooded merganser 32, Common merganser 92, Red-breasted merganser 224, Ring-necked pheasant 7, Wild turkey 88, Red-throated loon cw, Common loon 47, Horned grebe 22, Red-necked grebe cw, Northern gannet 1, Great cormorant 11, Great blue heron 2.

     “Bald eagle 10, Northern harrier 14, Sharp-shinned hawk 4, Cooper’s hawk 9, Northern goshawk cw, Red-tailed hawk 39, Rough-legged hawk 3, Merlin 3, Peregrine falcon 2. 

     “Sanderling 45, Purple sandpiper 12, Dunlin 125, Bonaparte’s gull 33, Ring-billed gull 369, Herring gull 1068, Glaucous gull 1, Great black-backed gull 153, Razorbill 26.

     “Rock pigeon 433, Mourning dove 284, Eastern screech-owl 5, Great horned owl 5, Snowy owl 24[I believe this number of Snowy Owls was 2 shy of the record, however there were certainly many more Snowy Owls present in the count area than could be seen, due to poor visibility. This is evidenced by 15 counted on the Parker River refuge alone the prior day.],Barred owl 1, Long-eared owl cw, Short-eared owl 1, Belted kingfisher 6.

     “Red-bellied woodpecker 68 (all-time high #), Yellow-bellied sapsucker 3 (all-time high #), Downy woodpecker 232 (all-time high #), Hairy woodpecker 34, Northern flicker 35, Pileated woodpecker 5 (all-time high #).

     “Eastern phoebe 1 (4th record for this count), Northern shrike cw, Blue jay 551, American crow 365, Common raven 2 (all-time high #), Horned lark 30, Black-capped chickadee 1271, Tufted titmouse 565 (all-time high #), Red-breasted nuthatch 2, White-breasted nuthatch 331 (all-time high #), Brown creeper 8, Carolina wren 71 (all-time high #), Winter wren 6, Marsh wren 2, Golden-crowned kinglet 49, Ruby-crowned kinglet 1. 

     “Eastern bluebird 95, Hermit thrush 4, American robin 1806, Gray catbird 3, Northern mockingbird 40, European starling 3296, Cedar waxwing 231, Yellow-rumped warbler 50, Pine warbler cw [thanks to a report from a customer, telling me about the bird visiting her suet feeder] (6 previous records on this count).

     “Eastern towhee 1, American tree sparrow 289, Chipping sparrow 1 (7th record for this count), Field sparrow 1, Fox sparrow 2, Song sparrow 312 (all-time high #), Lincoln’s Sparrow 1 (3rd record for this count; photographed), Swamp sparrow 25, White-throated sparrow 226, Dark-eyed Junco 774 (all-time high #).

     “Snow Bunting 54, Northern cardinal 307, Red-winged Blackbird 58, Rusty Blackbird 8 (all-time high #), Common Grackle 1, Brown-headed Cowbird 1, House finch 150, American goldfinch 521, House sparrow 1552.

     “Additional forms: Accipiter, sp. 1.

     “Total species 99, Total individuals 21824, Count week [additional] species 7.

     The postponed Cape Ann Christmas Bird Count will happen this Sunday, December 29, with better weather expected. And don’t forget the book signing by Annette LeBlanc Cate “Look Up-Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard” on Monday, December 30th 1:30-3:00pm at the Mass Audubon Joppa Flats Education Center.

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
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