[Tweeters] 2019 Eastside Audubon CBC Summary

Andrew McCormick andy_mcc at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 7 14:25:29 PST 2020

Hello Tweets,
After reading Matt Bartels' report for the Seattle Audubon CBC, I thought you might like to see a summary of our CBC on the east side of Lake Washington. Here it is.
2019 Eastside Audubon Christmas Bird Count Summary
14 December 2019

104 species tallied (count day + count week)
Count Day: 98 species
Count week: 6 additional species
Individual birds: 12,338
Observers: 76 (69 in the field + 5 feeder watchers + 2 eBird reports)

The 2019 Eastside Audubon CBC was the 36th count held on December 14, 2019. The day was cloudy with calm wind and light rain falling all day. The species count of 98 was within the normal range for Count Day (Range 90-101). However, the total number of birds 12,338 was the lowest since 2008 accounting for 72% of the previous 10-YR average (18,186).

The count had a high number of participants this year including an increase in feeder watchers. We would like to increase the number of feeder watchers in future years.

Pacific Loon and Surf Scoter were seen on Lake Sammamish and both birds made the count for the first time. Their presence on the lake is unusual because there are no marine waters within the Eastside Audubon Count Circle. Less-frequently seen birds, Orange-crowned Warbler, seen for the second year in a row, Hutton's Vireo, and Western Screech Owl were seen this year.

Notable Misses
Ruddy Duck was missing this year. After recording 88 Ruddies in 2014, counts for this species have trended downward ranging from 5-18 per year from 2015 to 2018. Peregrine Falcon is known to be in our area having been seen during count week three years in a row, but not on count day. Barred Owl was missed again this year. After being counted for four consecutive years Northern Saw-whet Owl was missed this year. For the second year in a row Band-tailed Pigeons eluded the count. Lincoln's Sparrow was missed but seen in count week.

Bird sightings can fluctuate from count to count, but some indications of how they are doing can be determined by comparing a count total to a larger sample. The CBC uses the previous 10-Year average as one yardstick. The following review shows a mix of how birds fared on the Eastside Audubon CBC. The numbers in parentheses are the total number seen in 2019, and the percentage as a ratio of the 10-YR average.

Ducks and Geese
After an extremely high count of Snow Geese in 2018 (2932), that number came back down to earth to 12, which is a high number when the 2018 count is excluded from the average. Cackling Geese were the lowest in nine years (1518, 37%). Canada Geese were a bit below average (1067, 73%). For the third consecutive count six duck species have shown a downward trend. Ruddy Duck was not seen. Greater (6, 46%) and Lesser Scaup (7, 32%), Northern Shoveler (15, 65%), Green-winged Teal (44, 46%), and American Wigeon (156, 38%) all continued this downward trend. Mallard (792, 51%) barely made half its average numbers. The Surf Scoter on Lake Sammamish was the first seen in the 36-year history of this count.

Grebes, Pigeons, Hummingbirds, Coots, and Rails
Pied-billed Grebes were at their average count (72, 104%). Virginia Rail was also close to the 10-YR average (4, 80%). Anna's Hummingbird was significantly above average (113, 177%) continuing its increase although down from the 2018 total of 133. American Coots were also well above the 10-YR average (610, 160%) this year. For the second year in a row Band-tailed Pigeon was not seen on the count, but this year was seen during count week.

Gulls, Loons, Cormorants, and Herons
Ring-billed Gull at 114 had the highest count since 2011 and over two times the 10-YR average (265%). In sharp contrast Mew Gull was markedly down from the average (98, 21%). California Gull at five was slightly above the average of three individuals. Other gull species were not seen.

One Common Loon has been seen on Lake Sammamish in four of the last five years including 2019. Pacific Loon was seen on this count for the first time this year. Double-crested Cormorant was seen below the average (108, 76%). Great Blue Heron numbers were good (56, 117%), and our one perennial Green Heron was found again.

Raptors and Owls
For the second year in a row Bald Eagles were seen in well above-average numbers (52, 250%). Red-tailed Hawks also showed well (54, 129%). One Northern Harrier was seen down from the average of three. Cooper's Hawks were in good numbers (9, 180%), and three Sharp-shinned Hawks were seen, one above average. Eleven American Kestrels were tallied more than tripling any previous total (11, 367%). Peregrine Falcon eluded us on count day for the third consecutive year but was seen during count week. One Merlin was counted. Barn Owl (2), Great Horned Owl (1), and Western Screech Owl (1) were all listed on count day and Barred Owl and Short-eared Owl were seen in count week.

Kingfisher, Woodpeckers, and Falcons
Belted Kingfisher met the average (8, 89%). Red-breasted Sapsuckers were surprisingly way down from the 10-TR average (2, 25%). Northern Flickers were above average (125, 140%). Downy (28, 117%), Hairy (11, 73%), and Pileated (7, 117%) Woodpeckers were all close to their average.

American Crows were off this year (653, 66%) as were Steller's Jays (84, 74%). However, after a three-year absence four Canada Jays were noted on an eBird report submitted on count day. Common Raven continued its increasing average (25, 119%). California Scrub-Jays seen in 2013 and 2018, were not seen this year.

Both Black-capped (316, 95%) and Chestnut-backed Chickadees (149, 103%) were seen in average numbers. Bushtits (108, 73%) and Red-breasted Nuthatches (15, 68%) were below average, but Brown Creeper came in big at close to double the average numbers (41, 195%). The kinglets were close to their average numbers: Golden-crowned (224, 83%), and Ruby-crowned (107, 129%).

Varied Thrush was seen at less than a third of the average count (13, 30%). However, American Robin was close to average (504, 87%).

Count results varied among the finches. House Finch had good numbers (178, 133%), but Purple Finch (16, 50%) and American Goldfinch (28, 65%) were low. Pine Siskin was down by half their 10-YR average (368, 53%). There were no Red Crossbills or Evening Grosbeaks counted.

White-crowned Sparrow scored highest among the sparrows at over three times the average (123, 351%). Song Sparrows were also up (264, 119%). Dark-eyed Juncos recovered from their low count in 2018 to almost average numbers this year (647, 88%). Fox Sparrows dropped a bit (37, 74%). Golden-crowned Sparrows (96, 95%) and Spotted Towhee (144, 104%) were close to their average count. One White-throated Sparrow was seen on count day and a Lincoln's Sparrow was observed during count week. House Sparrow had about average numbers (58, 92%).

I have been a participant in Christmas Bird Counts for several decades, but this is my first year as compiler. I am grateful for all the hard work that our team members put in and I think we had a good count that accurately reflects the status of birds in our count circle. Thanks also to Matt Bartels. I copied his format for this report.

Andy McCormick
Eastside Audubon CBC Compiler
Kirkland, WA

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