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: Rockford CBC December 14, 2014 final results  ( 684 )

Dan Williams

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Rockford CBC December 14, 2014 final results
« : December 23, 2014, 08:08:13 PM »
The Rockford Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, December 14.  Despite the fog, which got worse in the afternoon, the combined teams managed to locate 80 species, plus 2 "count week" birds-Golden Eagle and Short-eared Owl.  80 species is the highest total in count history, edging the old mark of 79 set in 1999.

Here are a few highlights:

Waterfowl are the big news this year.  We recorded a total of 17 species. Most of these species were in 1 quarry where the still water was open, as well as in and near the Rock River.

Some species were only found by one team, such as:  White-crowned Sparrow  and Merlin, Snow Bunting, Brown-headed Cowbird,  Hermit Thrush, Hooded Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Canvasback, Bufflehead, Northern Shoveler, Lesser Scaup, Tundra Swan, Rusty Blackbird and Lapland Longspur, Long-eared Owl, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eurasian Collared-dove, Chipping Sparrow, Northern Shrike, and Wood Duck.

5 Winter Wrens by 3 teams was very good.  1 team had 3.  The Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Chipping Sparrow are well-documented.  The Pecatonica Bottoms is the hotspot for Red-headed Woodpeckers, and they were only found there.  33 were recorded by only 2 teams.  Red-breasted Nuthatch is very scarce this year, and none were reported from feeders.  But, 3 were found (2 and 1, respectively) in the center of the circle, which has a lot of wide open agriculture.  I presume that these birds were found in cemetery conifers.

Winter finches are scarce.  We managed to find only 3 Common Redpolls, 7 Purple Finches, and 65 Pine Siskins.  After setting a state high count of 806 House Finches in 2009, this year's search only found 299.  I believe that the peak has passed  and we won't see numbers approaching the high total again.

Count high totals for individual species were set by the following:

Bufflehead (4), Hooded Merganser-8, Common Merganser (282), Ruddy Duck (6), American Coot (26), Barred Owl (17), Red-bellied Woodpecker (second record in a row 226), Downy Woodpecker (392), Hairy Woodpecker (86), Pileated Woodpecker ( second year in a row-13), Blue Jay (411), Black-capped Chickadee (814), White-breasted Nuthatch (374).

Low total was Ring-necked Pheasant (5)but it is only slightly better than the zero of a couple of years ago.  I attribute this to substantial loss of habitat, primarily by changing agricultural practices.  Species often seen on the count, such as Wilson's Snipe, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Fox Sparrow, were not seen this year. No Bobwhite or Gray Partridge were recorded, a continuing trend.

We had 48 field counters, which is more than average.  There was no snow cover so birds were scattered.  While the fog made visibility difficult, the wind was low., and the mild temperatures before the count caused some still water to reopen. Good coverage by good birders, open water, and mild temperatures all combined to produce this high total. A complete list of species and individual totals will be distributed to the participants and will also be accessible on the National Audubon website once the data entry is completed.  I have not entered the results through their site yet. 

Thank you to all who contributed their time and talent to make this count successful.  Next year the count is Saturday, December 19, 2015.

« : December 26, 2014, 03:21:54 PM Dan Williams »


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