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Christmas Bird Count 2011
Text by Paul Fellers

December 17th was clear, cool, and sunny for the 40 of us who participated in our annual count, the 37th for me as compiler. Our total species observed was an excellent 139, with 57,213 individuals, a tribute to our fine cadre of birders.

Some of the notable records by our 16 teams who covered the woods, lakes, fields, streams, etc. were as follows in checklist order: a whopping 10 Common Loons on Lake Arietta; very high number of 43 Horned Grebes (4 teams); 431 American White Pelicans; a whopping 119 Brown Pelicans; 408 Anhingas (perhaps enough for the record for all counts); 2,187 White Ibis (very high no.); 529 Wood Storks (super no. for an endangered species); 14 duck species including a huge number of Whistling Ducks at 244 (with most found a Circle-B-Bar), 91 Green-winged Teal, 38 American Wigeon, 2,684 Lesser Scaup (most on lake Arietta); 4 Bufflehead, and 3,208 Ruddy Ducks; 90 Ospreys (2 noted in 1974, my first year as compiler), 105 Bald Eagles (a tribute to our endeavors to save our National bird from extinction); 2 Merlin; sadly, no Northern Bobwhites at all; 42 Purple Gallinules (perhaps enough to be the nation’s high count?); 10,870 American Coots (very high no.); 98 Limpkins (should be enough for nation’s high); 254 Sandhill Cranes (none recorded in 1974); 41 Caspian Terns; 2 Barn Owls (Circle-B-Bar); Great-crested Flycatcher (Teneroc); a single Eastern Bluebird; no Hermit Thrush was a bad miss; 10 Warbler species was a happy situation including Orange-crowned, 2 N. Parula, 4 Prairie, and Ovenbird; the best of the 5 sparrow species were 5 Vesper and 3 Grasshopper; of dubious distinction were flocks of 1,000 and 2,000 Brown-headed Cowbirds; and 3 Baltimore Orioles.

Unusual birds seen that were not on the regular count list were as follows: Rare Eared Grebe observed on Lake Juliana, 8 Roseate Spoonbills, a high number of 45 Gadwall, 5 very uncommon Redhead ducks, a well-described immature Swainson’s Hawk at Lake Parker Park, Peregrine Falcon at Circle-B-Bar, 19 Wild Turkeys, 7 Ruby-throated Hummers (5 at one Lakeland feeder), 4 Western Kingbirds, one of only a handful of Prothonotary Warblers ever reported in wintertime in the U.S. spotted along the edge of Lake Hancock, and 2 female Painted Buntings.

Congratulations to us all for making such a great effort for getting the species and numbers for yet another scientific data-gathering day. These counts are one of the best indicators of how the state of the environment is, especially as concerns our precious birds. Many thanks are due the ladies who put on our supper at the round-up—Alice Hallinan, Martha Sue Brantley, and Eva Sampson.

Purple Gallinule
Common Loon
Barn Owl

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