January 29, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Christmas Bird Count 2015

CATCHING UP: For the first time since 2011 (but not recorded on my blog until June 11, 2012), I participated in the Christmas Bird Count this winter. It was held on Saturday, December 19, while I was in the middle of grading final exams, so I could only devote a couple hours to the "census." As usual, Allen Larner coordinated the count, and assigned me to two locations in Staunton. The first was Montgomery Hall Park, where I began in the early afternoon. I saw a fair number of birds, including quite a few woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadees, and Juncos, but nothing really noteworthy until I spotted a male Golden-crowned Kinglet, and lured him into close range by playing that species' song on my iPod. Bingo!

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet (male), in Montgomery Hall Park, December 19, 2015. Roll your mouse over the image to see the same bird displaying his bright orange crown feathers, as males do when they are courting females or warning other males away from their territory.

Later I headed over to Betsy Bell Hill, where I saw a couple Pileated Woodpeckers, a Raven, and most importantly, a Brown Creeper. At the dinner at which the bird count participants gathered to share their results that evening, I learned that I was the only one to observe a Brown Creeper that day. That made my efforts seem worthwhile, even though I only tallied 20 species altogether. Altogether, 76 species were seen or heard in this season's Augusta County Christmas Bird Count, plus four more during the count week. Here is my complete count, with subtotals for the two locations:

Species Montgomery Hall Park Betsy Bell Hill Total
Turkey Vulture 1 2 3
Mourning Dove 7 0 7
Red-bellied Woodpecker 6 3 9
Downy Woodpecker 5 1 6
Hairy Woodpecker 2 0 2
Northern Flicker 0 1 1
Pileated Woodpecker 0 2 2
American Crow 3 0 3
Common Raven 0 1 1
Carolina Chickadee 9 2 11
Tufted Titmouse 3 2 5
Brown Creeper 0 1 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 4 2 6
Carolina Wren 5 4 9
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1 0 1
American Robin 3 1 4
European Starling 20 0 20
White-throated Sparrow 8 0 8
Dark-eyed Junco 14 0 14
Northern Cardinal 11 0 11
TOTAL # OF SPECIES: 20 102 22 124