[Tweeters] Cle Elum CBC Results

birdmarymoor at gmail.com birdmarymoor at gmail.com
Tue Dec 24 11:57:15 PST 2019

Our 15th annual Cle Elum CBC was held just over a week ago, on December 16th. The night before was colder than expected, but it was generally a delightful day to be out birding. Snow levels at that point were very low, we had no precipitation and little wind, and the temps climbed to just above the freeze by mid-afternoon in some places. There was even quite a bit of open water, with several ponds not completely frozen.

The only trouble was that it wasn’t very birdy!

The entire premise of the CBCs is to track long-term bird trends. With global warming and climate chaos, this is doubly important now. Each CBC provides just a miniscule bit of data, but all of the circles on the continent form a pointillist painting in which bird declines or increases can be pictured.

This year, we had no new species for the count, and our overall species total of 66 was a 10-year low. The number of birds counted (2769) was the lowest ever in the 15 years we’ve been doing the count. This is not a pretty picture.

We did do pretty well with waterbirds, probably because there was some open water on some ponds; most species had above average counts. The most exciting thing were the number of TRUMPETER SWANS, which was at least 15.

Finch numbers were just barely better than in our worst year, 2014, with the
same low number of species (3), and just 12 more total finches counted
(statistically a wash).

While the only outright Low Count was for Rock Pigeons, virtually every
species’ count was either near or below average. Sparrows and finches were
especially low. So the deficit in total birds was based on a widespread
weakness in numbers that was not offset by the somewhat better-than-average
waterbird count. The lack of species also hurt; species like Waxwings, Red
Crossbill and Pine Siskin can really boost the total numbers when they are

Our biggest miss was MOURNING DOVE – previously always seen (though once as
a Count Week bird). Other misses of note included White-headed Woodpecker,
Pileated Woodpecker, Evening Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin, and
White-crowned Sparrow. And just a single Great Blue Heron was seen.

A final note – Varied Thrushes, after last year’s stupendous high count,
returned back to median levels. This year, there was no “they were
EVERYWHERE” species.

My heartfelt thanks all of my count participants for helping out.

= Michael Hobbs
= www.marymoor.org/birding.htm
= BirdMarymoor at gmail.com
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