May 26, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 03 March 2011 11:52
It’s always fun to look at the results of the Great Backyard Bird Count. Held over the Presidents’ Day weekend, the count allows ordinary people like us to contribute sightings from our back yards or neighborhoods to the scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Here were some results of the four-day event:
* More than 86,500 checklists of sightings were submitted as of last Sunday. More than 10.8-million birds of 590 different species were counted throughout North America.
* A total of 110,000 birds in 136 species were counted in Connecticut. In New York, 366,000 birds of 161 species were seen.
* In Connecticut, the greatest numbers of species counted were: Dark-eyed Junco, 7,897 birds; American Crow, 7,157; Canada Goose, 7,042; European Starling, 6,748; Ring-billed Gull, 4,868; Common Grackle, 4,590; Greater Scaup, 4,354; House Sparrow, 4,036; Black-capped Chickadee, 3,959, and Mourning Dove, 3,934. (The scaup, a sea bird, was reported by only 11 people, while most others were reported by many hundreds of people. Thus, a few people must have been counting great masses of scaup along the shore.)
* The previous data show how a couple of sightings of huge flocks can throw off rankings. More telling is the number of people seeing birds rather than the number of birds seen. Here are the top 10 Connecticut birds by number of checklists containing them (including number of reports): Black-capped Chickadee, 1,099; Dark-eyed Junco, 1,042; Tufted Titmouse, 1,027; Northern Cardinal, 1,003; Downy Woodpecker, 885; Blue Jay, 876; Mourning Dove, 806; White-breasted Nuthatch, 744; Red-bellied Woodpecker, 659; and American Crow, 620.
* The population of the Red-bellied Woodpecker, ranked ninth most seen, has been interesting to follow. Forty years ago, a Red-belly was an uncommon bird in these parts, being a more southern species. The return of the forests and the warming of the winters have probably led to its increase in numbers. Until the 1940s and 50s, cardinals were also uncommon hereabouts. Population trends are one kind of data the Cornell ornithologists obtain from “citizen scientist” counts like this.
* Nationally, the top 10 most frequently reported birds were: Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove, Dark-eyed Junco, Downy Woodpecker, American Goldfinch, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, House Finch, and Tufted Titmouse.
* Nationally, the top 10 most numerous birds were: European Starling, American Robin, Common Grackle, Canada Goose, Red-winged Blackbird, Snow Goose, American Crow, American Goldfinch, Dark-eyed Junco, and Mallard.
* The least-reported birds in Connecticut? These had only one person each report seeing them: American Bittern, Baltimore Oriole, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Black-headed Gull, Boat-tailed Grackle, Dickcissel, Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Phoebe, Glaucous Gull, Northern Goshawk, Northern Shrike, Osprey, Rough-legged Hawk, Snowy Owl, and Wilson’s Snipe. Some of them are just uncommon birds, while others — like that oriole — are spring-summer species.
* Among the Connecticut towns served by BirdNotes, Greenwich (including Old Greenwich) had the most reports, 30, containing 51 species. Wilton had 12 reports, 28 species; Ridgefield, 10 reports, 23 species; Redding, 8 reports, 27 species; Weston, 8 reports, 18 species; Darien, 5 reports, 16 species; New Canaan, 5 reports, 22 species; Georgetown (which isn’t really a “town”), 2 reports, 20 species.
* The towns with the greatest number of species seen: Groton, 85, Stratford, 82, and Norwalk, 69. All of these are on the coast, and have the advantage of picking up many sea species as well as inland waterfowl that winter on the coast.
* Among New York State reports, the chickadee was first, followed by cardinal, junco, Downy Woodpecker, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, titmouse, nuthatch, crow, and American Goldfinch. In Connecticut, the goldfinch didn’t make the top 10, coming in 14th. Of course, New York State is much bigger than Connecticut with a great range of habitats (such as the Adirondacks).
* Some interesting Connecticut statistics: 31 reports counted 66 Common Ravens; 6 reports counted 7 Peregrine Falcons; 34 reports counted 68 Bald Eagles (no Golden Eagles were seen); 18 reports included 133 Monk Parakeets; 96 reports counted 355 Eastern Bluebirds; and 196 reports had 1,332 American Robins (who says there aren’t plenty of robins in winter?)
To snoop at the results, visit birdsource.org/gbbc/
“Hummingbirds: Feathered Gems,” slide talk with Gina Beebe Nichol, Wednesday, March 9, 7:30 p.m., free, Bedford Audubon, at Katonah Memorial House, 71 Bedford Road, Katonah, bedfordaudubon.org, 914-232-1999.
Annual Meeting, Connecticut Ornithological Association, including Dr. Alan Brush, on plumage chemistry and color, Dr. Daniel Klem on preventing bird-window collisions, Blair Nicula on storm-blown seabirds, Saturday, April 9, 8/9 to 4 p.m., $15/$20, Chapman Hall, Middlesex Community College, Middletown, ctbirding.org.
“First Sundays,” bird walks open to all ages and skills, at Greenwich Point, with Meredith Sampson, first Sunday of the month, through May, 9 a.m. sponsored by Wild Wings, Inc., Bruce Museum and Audubon Greenwich, 203-637-9822.
Copyright 2011 by Jack Sanders. Send sightings or comments to: jackfsanders [at sign] yahoo.com, or to Bird Notes, Box 1019, Ridgefield, CT 06877; or call 203-438-1183, extension BIRD (2473), and leave a message with your report, spelling your first and last names and telling us your town. If you need help identifying a bird, try your local nature center. If you find an injured bird, call wildlife rehabilitator Darlene Wimbrow of Redding, 203-438-0618, Wildlife in Crisis of Weston, 203-544-9913, or Wild Wings of Greenwich, 203-637-9822. The columnist’s website is www. sandersbooks. com.
|< Prev||Next >|