[Tweeters] Seattle CBC report - December 28, 2013

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Mon Jan 6 05:39:48 PST 2014


Hi Tweeters

I've compiled the raw data from last week's Seattle Christmas Bird Count and wanted to share some results. A full set of totals will be posted on the Seattle Audubon website in the coming days.

2013 Seattle Christmas Bird Count
December 28, 2013

126 species tallied (count day + count week)
Count day: 123 species

Count week: additional 3 species
Individual birds: 47,988 birds

Observers: 184 [approx.]


OVERVIEW:

Overall, the 2013 CBC came in with numbers remarkably similar to recent years. The 123 count-day species reported is right in line with the 10-year average. The total number of birds tallied [47988] was almost identical to last year (only 10 fewer!) -- our second lowest total in the past 15 years (only 2010 tallied fewer birds). Despite this, the total remains higher than the 40-year average (the period we refer to as the ‘modern period’ for Seattle CBC records). In addition to the 123 species seen on count day, three additional species were noted on Count Week but not during count-day: Blue-winged Teal, Common Raven and White-throated Sparrow.

Highlight birds of the day: A wintering Palm Warbler in the University District was only the 4th record for our CBC circle. Three Heerman’s Gulls represented only the third time that species has been present for the count. Two American Pipits showed up at Matthew’s Beach for only the fourth CBC appearance in the past twenty years.

The 518 Anna’s Hummingbirds recorded surpassed the previous record by more than 180. Hard to imagine that just twelve years ago was the first time more than 100 Anna’s were recorded on a Seattle CBC, and 15 years ago was the first time more than 50 were seen.

The other big story of the day was probably the lack of finches – see below for more on that.

Notable misses: Marbled Murrelet, Common Raven [count week only],Northern Shrike, White-throated Sparrow [count week only], Brewer’s Blackbird, Evening Grosbeak.


Record high counts: For the modern period (1972-present), high counts were recorded for 12 species, all of them non-passerines: Northern Shoveler [518]; Ring-necked Duck [749]; Bufflehead [1080]; Common Goldeneye [480]; Barrow’s Goldeneye [483]; Red-throated Loon [58]; Pied-billed Grebe [226]; Pigeon Guillemot [70]; Rock Pigeon [4564]; Barn Owl [4]; Anna’s Hummingbird [518]; and Belted Kingfisher [42].


TRENDS:

Ducks & Geese:
Trumpeter Swans [14] appear to be have become a regular winter visitor in Seattle – they have shown up for the past six straight counts. Prior to that, they’d only ever been recorded once on the Seattle CBC. In general, it was a good year for many duck species, though a few continued long-term declines. Significantly lower than average numbers for ducks were recorded for Green-winged Teal [94], Gadwall [590], Canvasback [216], Surf Scoter [442], White-winged Scoter [8] and Black Scoter[17]. On the high end, Wood Duck [32], Northern Shoveler [518], American Wigeon [2515], Ring-necked Duck [749], Bufflehead [1080], Common Goldeneye [480], Barrow’s Goldeneye [483], and Red-breasted Merganser [381] all were recorded at well above their 10-year average. The 50 Ruddy Duck reported is a 10-year high, but still represents a small fraction of the 1000+ numbers recorded in the early 80s.


Loons & Grebes:
Loon numbers were mixed, with Red-throated [58] setting an all-time high and Pacific [13] and Common Loons [7] coming in below average.
Grebe counts were generally higher, with Pied-billed Grebe [226] setting a new record, Horned Grebe [425] at a near high, and Western Grebe [1218] coming in higher than the 10-year average.


Raptors:
Bald Eagle [67] continued to come in above average, but Accipiter numbers were low this year, with only 6 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 20 Cooper’s Hawks reported. Merlin [7] came in a bit low, and Peregrine [9] a bit higher than recent averages.


Shorebirds, Alcids & Gulls:
Black Turnstones [38] were well below average this year, while Surfbirds [167] showed up at nearly double the 10-year average. Killdeer [47] and Sanderling [13] came in low.

Pigeon Guillemots [70] set a new record, but all other alcids were well below recent averages, with only 13 Common Murre, 24 Rhinoceros Auklet, and zero Marbled Murrelets recorded

Gull numbers were down for most species this year. Once again, Bonaparte’s Gulls were not present for the count, and only a single Herring Gull was reported – a bird that has never been missed in the 100+ years of the Seattle CBC! Mew Gull [801], California Gull [15], Thayer’s Gull [1], and Glaucous-winged Gull [1041] were well below their normal numbers, and only Ring-billed Gull [396] and Western Gull [12] were seen in higher than average numbers.


Owls: We had a good year for owls, with 5 species recorded, 4 of them at above average numbers: Barn Owl [4]; Western Screech-Owl [3]; Great Horned Owl [2]; Barred Owl [8]; and Northern Saw-whet Owl [1]


Sparrows were present at about average or slightly higher than average numbers, with Spotted towhee [272], Fox Sparrow [211], Song Sparrow [964], White-crowned Sparrow [57], and Dark-eyed Junco [1081] all above average, and Lincoln’s Sparrow [16], Golden-crowned Sparrow [213] and White-throated Sparrow [Count week only] a bit lower than average.


Finches: On the finch front, after last year’s record numbers this year was marked by the near absence of many finch species. One Red Crossbill was reported, and only 32 Pine Siskins appeared. To place that in context, the 10-year average for Pine Siskin is 1421, and this is only the third time in 40 years that the CBC has recorded fewer than 100 Pine Siskin. House Finch numbers [667] were also low, and only Purple Finch [19] came in above their recent average. Evening Grosbeak eluded counters entirely.


Thanks to everyone who participated and made it another great count.


Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA




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