[Tweeters] Seattle Christmas Bird Count 28 Dec 2019 - summary of results

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Sat Jan 4 20:35:21 PST 2020


Tweeters –
There will be a full report posted on the Seattle Audubon website with all the species totals before long, but for now, here’s a summary of the 91st annual Seattle CBC, held last Saturday.

2019 Seattle Christmas Bird Count
28 December 2019

124 species tallied (count day + count week)
Count day: 121 species
Count week: 3 additional species
Individual birds: 50,109
Observers: 322 [220 in field + 102 feeder watchers]

Overview:
The 2019 Seattle CBC was held on an overcast but rain-free day – much different than the year before when it was windy and rainy. Overall, that helped us find the birds – though the species total wasn’t high, the total number of birds was. The count day total of 121 species was the third lowest in the past decade, and the three count week species are added in, for a total of 124, we still came up with our second lowest total in the past decade, about 4 off the normal total for the decade.
That said, the total number of birds seen was high, with just over 50,000 birds seen – only the second time this decade we reached that level. All told, we tallied about 2000 birds more than our decade average.

Highlights:
Once again, we had over 300 participants, with 220 in the field and 102 at feeders. Feeder watchers contributed 3276 birds, about 6% of our total individual birds.
Feeder watchers also provided the one species to the CBC record this time around: Lesser Goldfinch – a species that is slowly extending its range north, but that remains pretty hard to find in the city. For the second year in a row, we had Eurasian Collared-Dove, perhaps a sign they’ll now be a regular count bird. Other highlight birds would include a Great Egret [for only the 2nd time] near the Ballard Locks, Rock Wren [only our third ever] at Alki, and a Mountain Chickadee nearby.

Notable misses:
Three species were only picked up as count week birds: Western Gull, Mourning Dove and Townsend’s Solitaire. In addition, notable misses included: Greater White-fronted Goose, California Quail, Marbled Murrelet, Bonaparte’s Gull, Iceland Gull, Western Screech-Owl, Evening Grosbeak and Red Crossbill.

Record high counts:
For the modern period (1972-present), high counts were recorded for a remarkable 24 species. We normally have just a handful setting new records, so that’s remarkable already: Cackling Goose (412), Wood Duck (126), Anna’s Hummingbird (831), Double-crested Cormorant (980), Great Egret (1), Cooper’s Hawk (33), Barn Owl (5), Barred Owl (33), N. Saw-whet Owl (4), Belted Kingfisher (46), Downy Woodpecker (132), Hairy Woodpecker (11), Hutton’s Vireo (20), Steller’s Jay (266), Common Raven (19), Chestnut-backed Chickadee (570), Brown Creeper (184), Rock Wren (1), Bewick’s Wren (367), Lesser Goldfinch (1), Spotted Towhee (485), Song Sparrow (1143), White-throated Sparrow (8) and Dark-eyed Junco (2522) - wow

Trends:
It’s always tough to be selective with the results to report, but here’s how a few groups fared
[numbers in brackets indicate the total number seen and the percentage as a ratio of the 10-year average on the count, species with a record-high count noted with an *]

Ducks & geese
Geese came in above average across the board: Snow Goose [111, 185%], Brant [150, 121%], Canada Goose [412, 38%] & Cackling Goose* [1804, 199%]. Dabbling ducks were mixed in their results, with some higher like Wood Duck* [126, 281%, new high] and Mallard [1373, 105%], and some lower like Northern Shoveler [122, 65%] and Northern Pintail [19, 25%]. Likewise, the diving duck story was a little more mixed than in recent years, with at least Canvasback [222, 137%] and Ring-necked Duck [700, 138%] coming in higher than usual. The overall story for diving duck continues to be declining numbers including Greater Scaup [74, 26%], Lesser Scaup 202, 60%], Surf Scoter [335, 40%], White-winged Scoter [1!!, 13%], & Black Scoter [2, 12%].

Grebes, hummingbirds, coots & rails
Most grebes came in close to their historical averages. Of note, after last year’s record low of 119, this year we rebounded to close to the 10-year average: 637, 89%. We set a new record high with Anna’s Hummingbird* again, with 831 [217%], fully 72 higher than our previous high. We only located 2 Virginia Rail [33%], but American Coot came in strong with 5669, 140% of the decade norm.

Alcids & gulls
In addition to missing Marbled Murrelet again, Common Murre were notably low [11, 15%] as were Rhinoceros Auklet [45, 81%]. Pigeon Guillemot [56, 104%] were pretty much right on their norm. Several species of gull were missing or low this year. We missed Bonaparte’s & Iceland Gull altogether, and only found Western Gull during count week and 1 Herring Gull [28%] on count day. Mew Gull [301, 25%] and Ring-billed Gull [87, 42%] came in well below average as well. California Gull [45, 158%] and the combo of Glaucous-winged and GWxWestern hybrid [2053, 118%] were the only gulls seen in higher than usual numbers this year.

Loons & cormorants
Red-throated Loon [20, 70%]and Common Loon [8, 67%] were down this year, but Pacific Loon was seen at higher numbers than the norm [26, 111%]. On the cormorant front, Brandt’s Cormorant were way down [61, 30%], but Double-crested Cormorant* [980, 131%] and Pelagic Cormorant [84, 176%] were both seen in higher numbers than the norm.

Raptors & owls
Bald Eagles came in strong with 103 tallied [117% of the decade average], Sharp-shinned Hawk, with just 1 tallied was very low [11%], but Cooper’s Hawk* [33, 154%] set a new high. Picking up an American Kestrel on the count is always nice [1, 800%]. We also had good numbers of Merlin [13, 131%] and Peregrine were a bit low [6, 72%]. We had 4 owls, 3 of them in record or tied-for record numbers, but we did miss Western Screech-Owl, a species barely holding on in the circle: Barn Owl* [5, 155%], Great Horned Owl [3, 159%], Barred Owl* [16, 208%], and N. Saw-whet Owl* [4, 222%].

Passerines
Corvids did pretty well, all told: Steller’s Jay* [266, 149%], California Scrub-Jay [21, 202%], American Crow [5792, 73%], and Common Raven* [19, 411%].

Chickadees were high across the board: Black-capped Chickadee [2069, 123%], Mountain Chickadee [1, 300%], and Chestnut-backed Chickadee* [570, 170%]. Other similar species were high as well: Bushtit [1333, 140%], Red-breasted Nuthatch [222, 159%], Brown Creeper* [184, 226%].

Finches: Although we missed irruptive northern finches as expected this winter (missed Red Crossbill & Evening Grosbeak altogether, and Pine Siskin came in low [590, 52%]), otherwise our finch numbers were pretty good: House Finch [820, 113%], Purple Finch [30, 204%], American Goldfinch [739, 147%], and our count first Lesser Goldfinch* [1].

Sparrows were found mostly in good numbers this year: Above average sparrow species included: Spotted Towhee* [485, 169%], Song Sparrow* [1143, 142%], White-throated Sparrow* [8, 291%], White-crowned Sparrow [111, 178%], Golden-crowned Sparrow [260, 119%], Dark-eyed Junco* [2522, 177%]. Lincoln’s Sparrow was right on its average at 15, and only Fox Sparrow [115, 80%] came in a little below average.

As ever, there might be a few tweaks as the final bits and pieces come in, but that about covers it.
Thanks to everyone who participated and made this another great count.

Matt Bartels
Seattle CBC Compiler
Seattle, WA
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