[Tweeters] Port Angeles to Sequim Breeding Bird Survey results

B Boekelheide bboek at olympus.net
Sun Jun 26 19:47:06 PDT 2016

Hello, Tweeters,

This morning (6/26/16) I ran the Port Angeles to Sequim Breeding Bird Survey, with my wife Barb assisting. It was an exceptional morning to be out counting birds. Barb grumbled a little about having to wake up so early (the route starts at 4:41 am, a half hour before sunrise), but by the end she was very happy, wanting to help out again next year. Happy wife, happy life!

Breeding Bird Surveys cover a 25 mile route with 50 stops spaced a half mile apart, coordinated by USGS. The same exact stops are counted every year. This route has run every year since 1970 except for one year (1983), so quite a history. It covers mostly fragmented forests, agricultural fields, and residential habitats north of Hwy 101, from Port Angeles across the Dungeness Valley, grazing the eastern edge of Sequim to Sequim Bay, then south of Hwy 101 to end up on Palo Alto Rd.

The top ten most abundant species on the route this year (number counted) were Eur. Starling (119), Am. Robin (114), Violet-green Swallow (94), Am. Goldfinch (76), Crow (72), Eurasian Collared-Dove (60), White-crowned Sparrow (60), Savannah Sparrow (54), Double-crested Cormorant (flyover flock of 47), and Song Sparrow (43).

The top ten most widespread species this year were Am. Robin (recorded at 43 stops), Violet-green Swallow (33 stops), Eur. Collared Dove (30 stops), Am. Goldfinch (28 stops), Crow (26 stops), Song Sparrow (23 stops), Spotted Towhee (20 stops), Savannah Sparrow (18 stops), Barn Swallow (15 stops), and Eur. Starling (14 stops).

Collared-Doves continue to be the avifauna story of the decade for this route. Even though this species was first recorded in Clallam County in 2004, I first recorded it on these Breeding Bird Surveys in 2009 with 4 birds at 2 stops. It now seems firmly entrenched as one of the most abundant and widespread species in the north Olympic Peninsula lowlands.

In total there were 1232 individual birds of 71 species. After entering the data and comparing them with last year, it is eerie how consistent some species may be from year to year. For example, this year we recorded 13 Pacific-slope Flycatchers at 11 stops. Last year in June 2015 we recorded exactly the same number of PS Flycatchers at exactly the same number of stops. And they weren’t all the same stops! This year we recorded 72 crows at 26 stops, and in 2015 we recorded 71 crows at 25 stops. This year we recorded 54 Savannah Sparrows at 18 stops, and last year we recorded 47 Savannah Sparrows at 18 stops. This year we recorded 15 Swainson’s Thrushes at 12 stops, and last year we recorded 18 Swainson’s Thrushes at 12 stops. Of course this shows how habitats that change little between years may encourage stable bird populations, and there are many exceptions as well, but it is still quite remarkable. A couple species that have become more prevalent around here recently are House Wren and Yellow Warbler.

It is also particularly interesting how quiet Steller’s Jays get during the nesting season. On this survey I only recorded one jay, and over the last 10 years the highest jay count was only 5. The one jay this morning was scolding a Red-tailed Hawk, otherwise we would not have recorded any. It is amazing how this species can be so in-your-face for much of the year, then essentially shuts up and disappears during the nesting season. They are out there, lurking...

Bob Boekelheide

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