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: Lisle-Arboretum CBC, 15 Dec 2013, final results  ( 1480 )

Geoffrey A. Williamson

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Lisle-Arboretum CBC, 15 Dec 2013, final results
« : January 25, 2014, 06:59:47 PM »
A bit of old news now, but as I've finally gotten around to wrapping things up from the 15 Dec 2013 Lisle Count, I thought I would post this.   The count history files at the count web site (http://home.comcast.net/~geoffrey.williamson/lislecbc/index.htm) have been updated as well.


On Sunday, 15 Dec 2013 we held the 65th Lisle-Arboretum Christmas Bird Count as part of the 114th Christmas Bird Count Season.  The Lisle CBC encompasses portions of Cook, DuPage and Will Counties with its center located 20 miles southwest of Chicago.  Leading up to count day, no one was expecting anything tremendous. It had been so cold; most of the ponds, lakes, and sloughs were frozen up, and we had nearly a half foot of snow cover on the ground.  Plus in the early hours on count day, temperatures were just above 20 degrees, dropping to about 12 degrees by the end of daylight, with a biting 12 mph wind out of the west gusting to 24 mph.

Yet the crew of counters knew what they were doing, knew what spots the birds would retreat to under these conditions, and delivered the goods on count day.  They set a count record of 88 species!! Three more species were recorded during count week.

The results were interesting. As one might expect, counts of many passerine species were down from average levels. Yet we had good diversity of waterfowl with many species in numbers better than average for the count. And a record high count was set for Black-crowned Night-Herons! Four other species had record high numbers. Three of these - Northern Shoveler, Bald Eagle, and Cedar Waxwing we knew were record tallies at the count dinner. The fourth, House Finch, was put over the top by feeder counts. We recorded all of the expected species (no big misses!) as well as a healthy number of species that are unusual for the count. We had one species new to the count: Lesser Black-backed Gull. (It had been recorded one year previously during count week.)

One other species had exceptionally good numbers, better than 150% of the recent average: Herring Gull. The 143 seen this year was the fourth highest total in the 19 years since the landfill at Greene Valley was closed. Contrastingly, Ring-billed Gull numbers were quite low, with the 98 that we tallied being the lowest count since 49 were logged in 1983. Three other species had noticeably low counts. We had but five Northern Flickers. This is the second lowest count since the last tally of five, which came in 1991 (we recorded only four in 2000), and is less than half the average number in the last 15 years. American Crows were also few and far between. Despite having 74 observers in the field, we recorded only 66 crows, the lowest total since the 10 in 1954. You'll recall that West Nile Virus hit our area in 2002, and corvid numbers plummeted that year. The crow numbers never recovered on the Lisle count. I suspect that this year's low total is likely more a product of the weather conditions and its impact on observers' ability to detect these birds, rather than a further decrease in the population. The last species deserving mention for low numbers is Swamp Sparrow. The 10 found this year represent the lowest count since the same number was tallied in 2000.

Credit for the count's success is due in large part to Bob Fisher, Tom Kelly, Linda Padera, Wes Serafin, Jenny Vogt, and Ken Wysocki. These folks are the area leaders who coordinate the several parties that go out in section of the circle that they are responsible for. They know what spots need covering and what species need to be looked for, and they make sure that parties are assigned to those areas. The skills and knowledge of the leaders of the birding parties is also tremendous and much appreciated by me as compiler. Thanks everyone! And those of us who attended the countdown dinner afterwards are in debt to Christine Williamson for orchestrating it.

Below are the final totals. Species unusual for the count are listed in bold face, and for these I've marked how many years they've been recorded on the count. I've also noted where we had good numbers of individuals for a species, record high counts, or unusually low counts.

Lisle-Arboretum CBC, 15 Dec 2013
CACKLING GOOSE 7 (good number and 10th year on count)
Canada Goose 10,965
Mute Swan (count week only)
TUNDRA SWAN 5 (4th year on count)
Wood Duck 2
Gadwall 94
American Wigeon 1
American Black Duck 2
Mallard 1421
Northern Shoveler 38 (RECORD HIGH!)
Ring-necked Duck 1
Lesser Scaup 2
Bufflehead 1
Common Goldeneye 16 (good number)
Hooded Merganser 2
Common Merganser 82 (good number)
Red-breasted Merganser 7
RUDDY DUCK 1 (12th year on count)


Great Blue Heron 7
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON 3 (RECORD HIGH! and 7th year on count)

Bald Eagle 10 (RECORD HIGH!)
Northern Harrier 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 7
Cooper's Hawk 15
Red-tailed Hawk 77
Rough-legged Hawk 2

American Coot 28 (good number)

SANDHILL CRANE 20 (7th year on count)

Wilson's Snipe 1

Ring-billed Gull 98 (low number)
Herring Gull 143 (very good number)
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL 1 (NEW TO COUNT!! - previously count week only)
gull, sp. 2

Rock Pigeon 820
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE 1 (7th year on count)
Mourning Dove 400

Eastern Screech-Owl 10
Great Horned Owl 10
BARRED OWL 1 (8th year on count)
Northern Saw-whet Owl 1

Belted Kingfisher 20 (good number)

Red-headed Woodpecker 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 167
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 6 (good number)
Downy Woodpecker 230
Hairy Woodpecker 64
Northern Flicker (yellow-shafted) 5 (low number)
PILEATED WOODPECKER 2 (7th year on count)

American Kestrel 8
MERLIN 1 (8th year on count)

Northern Shrike 1

Blue Jay 390 (good number)
American Crow 66 (low number)

Horned Lark 6 (good number)

Black-capped Chickadee 409
Tufted Titmouse 7

Red-breasted Nuthatch 22
White-breasted Nuthatch 148

Brown Creeper 11

Winter Wren 3
Carolina Wren 14 (good number)

Golden-crowned Kinglet 8

Eastern Bluebird 43
Hermit Thrush 2
American Robin 1952

GRAY CATBIRD 1 (9th year on count)

European Starling 4504

Cedar Waxwing 1144 (RECORD HIGH!)

Lapland Longspur 125 (good number)
Snow Bunting 12

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle form) 14

Eastern Towhee 1
American Tree Sparrow 798
SAVANNAH SPARROW 1 (5th year on count)
Fox Sparrow 24 (good number)
Song Sparrow 56
Swamp Sparrow 10 (low number)
White-throated Sparrow 79
White-crowned Sparrow 3
Dark-eyed Junco (OREGON) 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 1004

Northern Cardinal 492

Red-winged Blackbird 14
EASTERN MEADOWLARK 2 (21st year on count)
RUSTY BLACKBIRD 2 (17th year on count)
Common Grackle 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 1

House Finch 363 (RECORD HIGH!)
Purple Finch 11
Pine Siskin (count week only)
American Goldfinch 588

House Sparrow 944
Geoff Williamson
Chicago (Cook County), Illinois


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