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2020 Christmas Bird Count results

Special thanks to Tony Licata for organizing the Christmas Bird Count again this year and compiling the following report. It was a great year! For more information or if you are interested in volunteering for next year’s count, contact Tony at

Thank you all for helping on the 2020 Christmas Bird Count on December 19th.

Some interesting observations:

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic and partly cloudy skies with breezy winds, our total count was  UP to 22865, a 39% increase  compared to 16446 in 2019;  22330 in 2018;  19,247 in 2017; 21,266 in 2016;  23,272 in 2015.  The increase  in numbers in 2020 was due to  a 662% increase in Lesser Scaup.  A decrease of 75% in Tree Swallows lessened the increase.

On count day we saw 125 species, an increase of 4% versus 120 in 2019; 136 in 2018; 137 in 2017; 140 in 2016; 133 in 2015; 125 in 2014; 143 in 2013.  For count week we saw 135 species, an increase of 8% versus 125 in 2019; 140 in 2018; 144 in 2017; 145 in  2016; 133 in 2015.

Even though the pandemic lowered the number of participants, we had over 50 participants who spent over 100 hours in search of birds by foot, car, golf cart, or boat, and covered over 350 miles by land or sea.

Of note, we recorded on count day for the first time ever Bell’s Vireo, and  Orange-crowned Warbler.

There were 20 birds that we recorded through count week in 2020 but not in 2019:  Least Bittern, Coot, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, Horned Grebe, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Snail Kite, Virginia Rail, Redhead, Black Skimmer, Sora, Green-winged Teal, Brown Thrasher, Rudy Turnstone, Bell’s Vireo, Orange-crowned Warbler, Whip-poor-will and Hairy Woodpecker.  There were 9 birds that we did not record through count week in 2020 but did in 2019:   Purple Gallinule, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Merlin,  Barn Owl, Black-bellied Plover, American Redstart, Northern Shoveler, Summer Tanager and Cedar Waxwing.

Of the birds we did see, there were 10 species that had at least a 65% decline:  Brown-headed Cowbird, Rock Pigeon, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Ring-billed Gull, White Pelican, Least Sandpiper, Roseate Spoonbill,  Tree Swallow, Royal Tern, and Lesser Yellowlegs.

Counts were up at least 200% for 9 species including Northern Bobwhite, American Crow, Long-billed Dowitcher, Scrub Jay, Black-crowned Night Heron, Lesser Scaup, Blue-winged Teal, Downy Woodpecker and Common Yellowthroat.

There can be wide fluctuations in counts from one year to the next as with Northern Bobwhite, Long-billed Dowitcher, Scrub Jay, Black-crowned Night Heron and Blue-winged Teal, which declined more than 65% in 2019, but rose more than 200% in 2020.  The opposite held true for Ring-billed Gull, Black-bellied Plover and Least Sandpiper,  which increased more than 200% in 2019, but declined more than 65% in 2020.

2020 The top 10 birds 2019 The top 10 birds                                                       

accounting for 79% of the total sightings were:                 accounting for 66% of the total sightings were:

           1.    Lesser Scaup 11705       (51%)                                      1.   Tree  Swallows 2142     (13%);

           2.    Mourning Dove    945                                                    2.   Mourning Dove    1887;

           3.    Double-crested Cormorant    898                              3.   Lesser Scaup   1537;

          4.     White Ibis   846                                                                4.   Common Grackle 1038;

          5.     European Starling  782                                                  5.   White Ibis 956;

          6.     Boat-tailed Grackle   771                                              6.   Double-crested Cormorant 784;

          7.     Common Grackle   756                                                  7.   European Starling 711;

          8.     Tree Swallow   528                                                          8.   Boat-tailed Grackle 690;

          9.     Turkey Vulture   469                                                       9.   Ring-billed Gull 690;

         10.    Laughing Gull   393                                                         10.   Laughing Gull 486;

Turkey Vulture was added to the top ten, while Ring-billed Gull was deleted;  otherwise all the other species just changed their rankings.

The following 6 birds had equal to or higher totals than in any of the last 20 years: Northern Bobwhite, Indigo Bunting, American Crow, Long-billed Dowitcher, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher and Northern Parula

There were 21 birds that are seen occasionally which we did not record through count week in the last two years:  American Bittern, Short-billed Dowitcher, Ring-necked Duck, Dunlin,  Marbled Godwit, Horned Grebe, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red Knot, Red-breasted Merganser, Burrowing Owl, Clapper Rail, Sanderling, Sora,  Bachman’s Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Hermit Thrush,  American Wigeon, Marsh Wren and Sedge Wren.

If you are interested, I can send you the 20 year comparison.

Common Name of bird2020    % 20 to 192019Anhinga122-1%123Bittern American 00Bittern Least3***0Blackbird Brewer’s 00Blackbird Red-winged 26-59%63Blackbird Rusty 00Bluebird Eastern 11-45%20Bobwhite Northern 212000%1Buffleheadcw2Bunting Indigo 980%5Bunting, Painted5-38%8Canvasback00Caracara, Crested2100%1Cardinal Northern 5512%49Catbird Gray 11154%72Coot American 7***0Cormorant Double-crested 89815%784Cowbird Brown-headed 1-99%136Cowbird Shiny00Crane Sandhill 16-27%22Crow American 98345%22Crow Fish 227-36%357Dove Common Ground26-19%32Dove Eurasian Collared70-5%74Dove Mourning 945-50%1887Dove Ringed Turtle00Dove Rock (Rock Pigeon)25-86%183Dove, White-winged83196%28Dowitcher Short-billed 00Dowitcher Long-billed 562700%2Duck Mallard3***0Duck Mottled170-11%191Duck, Mallard/Mottled 00Duck Muscovy 4522%37Duck Ring-necked cw***0Duck Ruddy 1***0Duck Whistling-Black Bellied20-93%304Duck, Wood00Dunlin00Eagle Bald 225%21Egret Cattle 87-41%148Egret Great 123-24%161Egret Reddish 00Egret Snowy 5916%51Falcon, Peregrine00Finch, House30%3Flicker Northern (Yellow-shafted) 1122%9Flycatcher Great Crested 2-50%4Flycatcher, Least00Frigatebird Magnificent 00Gadwall00Gallinule Common124176%45Gallinule Purple0-100%2Gnatcatcher Blue-gray 14125%113Godwit, Marbled00Goldeneye Common 00Goldfinch American 36157%14Goose Snow 00Grackle Boat-tailed 77112%690Grackle Common 756-27%1038Grebe Eared00Grebe Horned cw     ***0Grebe Pied-billed 15-38%24Gull Bonaparte’s00Gull Franklin’s00Gull Great Black-backed00Gull Herring 4-33%6Gull Laughing 393-19%486Gull Ring-billed47-93%627Harrier Northern5150%2Hawk Cooper’s cw6Hawk Red-shouldered55-24%72Hawk Red-tailed 433%3Hawk Sharp-shinned cw       ***0Hawk, Short-tailedcw***0Hawk,Broad-winged00Hawk, Swainson’s00Heron Great Blue  (Blue form)96-9%105Heron Great Blue  (White form)00Heron Green9-47%17Heron Little Blue 71-34%107Heron Tricolored27-21%34Hummingbird Ruby-throated 00Ibis Glossy 136-42%233Ibis White 846-12%956Jay Blue 12622%103Jay Scrub21600%3Kestrel American13-24%17Killdeer8925%71Kingbird,Eastern00Kingfisher Belted 15-35%23Kinglet Ruby-crowned 0-100%1Kite Snail1***0Knot Red 00Limpkin20-44%36Loon Common1-50%2Meadowlark Eastern 2993%15Merganser Hooded 15-61%38Merganser Red-breasted00Merlin0cwMockingbird Northern 219-22%280Night-Heron Black-crowned 11267%3Night-Heron Yellow-crowned7-53%15Nuthatch Brown-headed cw #VALUE!4Oriole, Northern00Osprey53-27%73Ovenbird10%1Owl Burrowing 00Owl Eastern Screechcw2Owl Great Horned 350%2Owl,Barred2100%1Owl, Barn0-100%3Oystercatcher American 00Parakeet Monk 2450%16Parula, Northern350%2Pelican Brown 45-63%121Pelican White 8-78%36Phoebe Eastern 2613%23Pintail Northern 00Pipit, American00Plover Black-bellied0-100%27Plover Semipalmated 71***0Rail Clapper 00Rail, King10%1Rail, Virginia1***0Redhead1***cwRedstart, American0xxxcwRobin American 94-38%151Sanderling00Sandpiper Least 2-96%47Sandpiper Spotted 1183%6Sandpiper Western 00Sapsucker Yellow-bellied 5150%2Scaup Lesser11705662%1537Scaup, Greater00Scoter, Black00Shoveler Northern 0xxxcwShrike Loggerhead 16714%147Skimmer Black 77***0Snipe, Wilson’s5150%2Soracw   ***0Sparrow Bachman’s 00Sparrow Chipping 00Sparrow Grasshopper 00Sparrow House 16-58%38Sparrow Savannah 2-50%4Sparrow Song 00Sparrow Swamp 30%3Sparrow, Vesper00Sparrow, White-throated00Spoonbill Roseate 1-89%9Starling European 78210%711Stork Wood36-45%66Swallow Barn 00Swallow Northern Rough-winged 00Swallow Tree 528-75%2142Swan Mute00Tanager, Scarlet 00Tanager, Summer0-100%2Teal Blue-winged 341600%2Teal Green-winged 1***0Tern Caspian00Tern Common 00Tern Forster’s 1770%10Tern Royal 20-71%69Tern Sandwich 5-50%10Thrasher Brown 1***0Thrush Hermit00Titmouse Tufted2xxxcwTowhee Eastern 1713%15Turkey Wild00Turnstone Ruddy cw   ***0Vireo, Bell’s1***Vireo, Solitary (Blue-headed)2-50%4Vireo White-eyed 6100%3Vireo Yellow-throated 00Vulture Black33210%301Vulture Turkey 46974%269Warbler Black-and-white 50%5Warbler, Orange-crowned1***Warbler Palm 16074%92Warbler Pine 128-1%129Warbler Prairie 2-33%3Warbler Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) 30664%187Warbler Yellow-throated 10-9%11Warbler Yellow00Warbler Black-throated Blue00Waxwing Cedar 0-100%1Whip-poor-will1***0Wigeon, American00Willet90%9Woodcock, American00Woodpecker Downy11267%3Woodpecker Hairy 1***0Woodpecker Pileated 1660%10Woodpecker Red-bellied 10422%85Woodpecker Red-cockaded 3-25%4Woodpecker Red-headed 1-50%2Wren Carolina 16129%7Wren House 14-13%16Wren Sedge 00Wren,Marsh00Yellowlegs Greater 929%7Yellowlegs Lesser 2-90%20Yellowthroat Common 21250%6Yearly Totals2286639%16446Number of species count day  1254%120Number of species count week1358%125

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