May 23, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 14 April 2011 10:50
The annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) this year was described as a “gold mine” of information for ornithologists.
An estimated 60,000 bird watchers of all ages — many of them in Fairfield and Westchester Counties — took part in the free, four-day event Feb. 18 to 21, counting birds in their yards and neighborhoods. Participants identified 596 species in North America north of Mexico, and filed 11.4-million individual bird observations, reports the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which sponsored the event with National Audubon.
“Their reports provide useful information to scientists tracking changes in the numbers and movements of birds from year to year, just as winter is about to melt into spring,” said Pat Leonard of Cornell Lab.Two new species never reported to the count before included a Brown Shrike in McKinleyville, Calif., and a Common Chaffinch recorded in Placentia, Newfoundland and Labrador — both species well out of their normal ranges. In Alaska, a GBBC participant observed a Brambling visiting her feeder — the only one reported for all of North America.
Participants also reported a surprising increase in the number of Evening Grosbeaks this year — “the highest number of observations ever for this species during the count and an increase that isn’t simply attributable to greater GBBC participation,” said Ms. Leonard. “A closer look finds this upturn especially marked in the northwestern U.S. and in Canada. This uptick is also supported by data entered so far this season from Project FeederWatch, a winter-long citizen-science project from the Cornell Lab and Bird Studies Canada.
“FeederWatch data have shown sharp declines in Evening Grosbeaks over the past two decades for unknown reasons. Future counts may reveal if this year’s increase in GBBC grosbeak reports is a one-time fluctuation or part of a long-term trend.”
For the third year in a row, checklists submitted to the Great Backyard Bird Count topped 92,000. Participants set new bird checklist records in 11 states and in seven out of 13 Canadian provinces and territories, resulting in a new overall checklist record for Canada.
Of the top 10 birds reported on the most checklists in 2011, every single one is a species found in our towns:
1) Northern Cardinal
2) Mourning Dove
3) Dark-eyed Junco
4) Downy Woodpecker
5) American Goldfinch
6) Blue Jay
7) American Crow
8) Black-capped Chickadee
9) House Finch
10) Tufted Titmouse
To find out more about these and other trends from the 2011 count, visit www.birdcount.org and click on “Highlights of 2011 GBBC.”
Kevin O’Reilly’s mostly white hawk accompanies this article, but Bill Della Rocco also saw an unusual “white bird” recently.
“When we were visiting my mother-in-law in Darien, we watched a largely white robin hopping around her back yard. His breast was pink and white mottled, the neck and head very white. He had normally gray wing feathers, but a very white rump. This bird had an advantage against a snowy background. When he flew away he reminded me of a thrown snow ball.”
That’s probably a leucistic robin, one that is lacking proper pigmentation due to a genetic defect. This is reportedly fairly common in robins.
Yes, it could be good camouflage when the ground is snowy. Unfortunately, when it’s not, the leucistic robin may stick out like a sore thumb and be more visible to predators.
Migration & Early Spring Migrants, workshop, Saturday, April 16, 9:30 to noon, $12/adult, free for kids, RSVP required Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, 203-869-5272 x230, greenwich.audubon.org
Birding By Ear, indoor and outdoor workshop on bird sounds, Saturday, May 7, 9:30 to noon, $12 adults, children free, Greenwich Audubon, 613 Riversville Road, RSVP 203-869-5272 x230, greenwich.audubon.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 >|
The requested URL /components/com_soyd/tent.php was not found on this server.