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JANUARY MEETING – Christmas Bird Count Results

At our PRAS meeting in January, Tony Licata will present the results of our Annual Christmas Bird Count. Here is the letter (email) that was sent to all of the bird count participants.

Thank you all for helping on the 2016 Christmas Bird Count on December 17th.

Some interesting observations:

Even though we had  sunny and mild weather,  our total count was  DOWN by 9% to 21,266 versus 23,272 in 2015; 24,172 in 2014; 27,192 in 2013;  23,975 in 2012;  17,718 in 2011;   22,272 in 2010;   19,082 in 2009;   24,516 in 2008.   The decline in numbers in 2016 was due to seeing only 1710 Lesser Scaup compared to  4632 in 2015, and by seeing only 1822 Tree Swallows compared to 4087 in 2015.  The 172% increase in Turkey Vultures was due to the red tide fish kill.

On count day we saw 140 species, a increase of 5% versus 133 in 2015; 125 in 2014; 143 in 2013;  131 in 2012;  130 in 2011;  118 in 2010.  For count week we saw 145 species, which is a record number, an increase of 7% versus 133 in 2015; 140 in 2014; 143 in 2013; 135 in 2012; 131 in 2011; 123 in 2010.

Over fifty participants spent over 300 hours in search of birds by foot, car, cart, or boat, and covered over 500 miles by land or sea.

Of note, we recorded on count day for the first time ever Whip-poor-will (Airport Ponds), American Woodcock (Airport Ponds), and Northern Parula (Babcock Cecil Webb). Others which we have not recorded in quite a while was the  Sedge Wren, which we last saw in 2008.

Of the birds we did see, there were at least 60% declines in Painted Bunting, Short-billed Dowitcher, Reddish Egret, Herring Gull, Red-tailed Hawk, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Snail Kite, Burrowing Owl, Semipalmated Plover, Least Sandpiper, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Lesser Scaup, Black Skimmer, Bachman’s Sparrow, Forester’s Tern, Hermit Thrush, Ruddy Turnstone, and Black-and-white Warbler.

Counts were up at least 200% for Eastern Bluebird,  Indigo Bunting, Fish Crow, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mallard Duck, Cattle Egret, House Finch, laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Cooper’s Hawk, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Wilson’s Snipe, Roseate Spoonbill, Eastern Towhee, White-eye- Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, House Wren, Greater Yellowlegs and Lesser Yellowlegs.

There can be wide fluctuations in counts from one year to the next as with Indigo Buntings, Ring-billed Gulls, Cooper’s Hawk, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Eastern Towhee, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker and House Wren declined more than 60% in 2015, but rose more than 200% in 2016.  The opposite held true for Least Sandpiper which increased more than 200% in 2015, but declined more than 60% in 2016.

2016 The top 10 birds                                                               2015 The Top 10 birds

accounted for 59% of the total sightings were:            accounted for 71% of the total sightings were:

  1. Tree Swallow 1822;                                                        1.   Lesser Scaup 4632;

  2. Lesser Scaup 1710;                                                          2.   Tree Swallow 4078;

  3. Laughing Gull 1483;                                                       3.   European Starling 1843;

  4. Double-crested Cormorant 1265;                                    4.   Double-crested Cormorant 1335;

  5. Turkey Vulture 1202;                                                      5.   Common Grackle 1249;

  6. White Ibis 1154;                                                                 6.   Mourning Dove 1129;

  7. Mourning Dove 1141;                                                      7.   White Ibis 804;

  8. Common Grackle 1109;                                                  8.   Least Sandpiper 473;

  9. European Starling 975;                                                   9.   Laughing Gull 470;

  10. Boat-tailed Grackle 770.                                               10.   Turkey Vulture 442.

Boat-tailed Grackle was added to the top ten while Least Sandpiper was deleted, otherwise all the other species just changed their rankings.

The following 20 birds had higher totals than in any of the last 17 years: Indigo Bunting, Long-billed Dowitcher, House Finch, Purple Gallinule, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Glossy Ibis, White Ibis, Limpkin, Ovenbird, Northern Parula, Eastern Phoebe, Greater Scaup, Loggerhead Shrike, White-eyed Vireo,Turkey Vulture, Whip-poor-will, American Wigeon, American Woodcock, Sedge Wren and Greater Yellowlegs.

There were 18 birds that we recorded through count week in 2016 but not in 2015:  Least Bittern, Crested Caracara, Peregrine Falcon, Great Crested Flycatcher, Marbled Godwit, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red Knot, Barred Owl, Northern Parula, White Pelican, King Rail, Sanderling, Black Scoter, Grasshopper Sparrow, Green-winged Teal, Whip-poor-will, American Woodcock and Sedge Wren

There were 9 birds that we did not record through count week  in 2016 but did in 2015: Bufflehead, Reddish Egret, Broad-winged Hawk, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Burrowing Owl (this is the first time we have not seen one), Black Skimmer (this is the first time we have not seen one), Bachman’s Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, and Cedar Waxwing.

There were 15 birds that are seen occasionally which we did not record through count week in the last two years: Mallard-Mottled Hybrid Duck, Ruddy Duck, Least Flycatcher, Gadwall, American Oystercatcher, American Pipit, Clapper Rail, Redhead, Western Sandpiper, Sora, Chirping Sparrow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Wild Turkey, Hairy Woodpecker and Marsh Wren..

If you are interested, I can send you the 17 year comparison.

I’ll be giving my Christmas Bird Count presentation at the PRAS meeting on Thursday, January 19th.  at 6:30 PM at the First Alliance Church 20444 Midway Blvd. Port Charlotte.

Again, thank you all for helping on the count this year.

Tony Licata

Common Name of bird2016% 16 to 152015Anhinga116-4%121Bittern Americancw2Bittern Least1****0Blackbird Brewer’s00Blackbird Red-winged54-16%64Blackbird Rusty00Bluebird Eastern41242%12Bobwhite Northern11-45%20Bufflehead0cwBunting Indigo6200%2Bunting, Painted4-60%10Canvasback00Caracara, Crested1****0Cardinal Northern6858%43Catbird Gray90143%37Coot American28-15%33Cormorant Double-crested1265-5%1335Cowbird Brown-headed8914%78Cowbird Shiny00Crane Sandhill67-6%71Crow American9-25%12Crow Fish405246%117Dove Common Ground3761%23Dove Eurasian Collared11083%60Dove Mourning11411%1129Dove Ringed Turtle00Dove Rock (Rock Pigeon)78-36%122Dove, White-winged28-35%43Dowitcher Short-billed5-96%140Dowitcher Long-billed6500%1Duck Mallard10233%3Duck Mottled395-6%422Duck, Mallard Mottled Hybrid00Duck Muscovy38-12%43Duck Ring-necked44-42%76Duck Ruddy00Duck Whistling-Black Bellied38-42%65Duck, Wood00Dunlin3525%28Eagle Bald21-25%28Egret Cattle181229%55Egret Great136-20%169Egret Reddish0-100%1Egret Snowy13738%99Falcon, Peregrine1****0Finch, House16300%4Flicker Northern (Yellow-shafted)1233%9Flycatcher Great Crested2****0Flycatcher, Least00Frigatebird Magnificent00Gadwall00Gallinule Purple3****cwGnatcatcher Blue-gray9617%82Godwit, Marbled7****0Goldeneye Common00Goldfinch American2043%14Goose Snow00Grackle Boat-tailed770131%334Grackle Common1109-11%1249Grebe Horned29-54%63Grebe Pied-billed4812%43Gull Bonaparte’s00Gull Franklin’scw1Gull Great Black-backed00Gull Herring1-80%5Gull Laughing1483216%470Gull Ring-billed596235%178Harrier Northern30%3Hawk Cooper’s7600%1Hawk Red-shouldered75121%34Hawk Red-tailed1-75%4Hawk Sharp-shinned1****0Hawk, Short-tailed00Hawk,Broad-winged0-100%2Heron Great Blue  (Blue form)1269%116Heron Great Blue  (White form)00Heron Green1645%11Heron Little Blue192-9%212Heron Tricolored56-10%62Hummingbird Ruby-throated2100%1Ibis Glossy34410%313Ibis White115444%804Jay Blue125178%45Jay Scrub27108%13Kestrel American36-23%47Killdeer2125%201Kingbird,Eastern00Kingfisher Belted3383%18Kinglet Ruby-crowned0-100%1Kite Snailcw1Knot Redcw0Limpkin3332%25Loon Common30%3Meadowlark Eastern2321%19Merganser Hooded28655%185Merganser Red-breasted11120%5Merlin1-50%2Mockingbird Northern33186%178Moorhen10160%63Night-Heron Black-crowned7-50%14Night-Heron Yellow-crowned22214%7Nuthatch Brown-headed40%4Oriole, Northern00Osprey

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