My 2013 Christmas Count

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One of the places in our segment is called Flirt Hill (where we counted 17 Horned Larks, 2 Cooper’s Hawks and others)  It was a crystal wonderland.

The Christmas Bird Count began 114 years ago as a way to replace the Christmas tradition of going out to see how many birds each person could shoot.  Thankfully, the replacement activity took hold and now thousands of volunteers go out to count birds, making important contributions to the knowledge of population densities and migration trends.   The count areas are organized in 15 mile wide circles and each circle is divided into segments with a team of volunteers assigned to each segment.   My count covers an area of mixed woodlands, orchards and reservoirs in Easton, Connecticut.  I began on Sunday in the midst of an ice storm, hopping into the car at 4:15 a.m. to get to my circle segment to begin looking for owls.  Owling was a bust because of the continual passing of snowplows, with only one Screech Owl sighted.  We had at least 20 plows go by us, blocking out all possible owl calls.  We finished at dusk and all the volunteers in our circle met for a potluck dinner where we  compiled our data.   Our circle ended up with 102 species having been identified.  Our segment’s best bird was a Rusty Blackbird.  Their numbers have declined precipitously for unknown reasons.  Our count circle’s best bird was a Barrow’s Goldeneye, an unusual visitor this far south.  He was sighted by the youngest member of our count circle volunteers, who was elated by his find.  We also had a Baltimore Oriole, who should long ago have left for wintering grounds in the south. The most unusual bird in our segment was a Black Swan, native to Australia.  It must have escaped from someone’s waterfowl collection.  He fluffed his curly back feathers for me.  It was a crystalline day, beautiful and relatively mild (31º), a fun-filled day with good friends.

The Black Swan, a mystery bird.  Where did he come from?

The Black Swan, a mystery bird. Where did he come from?

2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Peg said,

    Great photos, thanks for sharing the mystery and beauty of winter.


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