Members of the Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter of Tennessee Ornithological Society conducted the first-ever Unicoi County Summer Bird Count on Saturday, June 14.
Rick Knight, a long-time compiler for the chapter’s seasonal bird counts, organized and launched the count as a means to collect valuable information about the local distribution of birds in an often overlooked county in the region.
Nineteen observers in five parties logged 53 party hours, plus three nocturnal party hours, searching for birds from Flag Pond to Limestone Cove within Unicoi County.
A total of 111 species were tallied during the count by the following observers: Jim Anderson, Rob Armistead, Harry Lee Farthing, Don Holt, Rick Knight, Roy Knispel, Richard Lewis, Vern Maddux, Joe McGuiness, Tom McNeil, Charles Moore, Cathy Myers, Kathy Noblet, Brookie and Jean Potter, Bryan Stevens, Kim Stroud, Gary Wallace and John Whinery.
Species found during the count included:
Canada Goose, 76; Wood Duck, 17; Mallard, 31; Ruffed Grouse,1; Wild Turkey, 29; Great Blue Heron, 12; and Green Heron, 6.
Black Vulture, 3; Turkey Vulture, 28; Bald Eagle, 3 ; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1; Cooper’s Hawk, 1; Red-shouldered Hawk, 1; Broad-winged Hawk, 3; Red-tailed Hawk, 5; American Kestrel, 2; and Peregrine Falcon, 3.
Killdeer,17; Rock Pigeon, 75; Mourning Dove, 77; Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 3; Eastern Screech-Owl, 2; Great Horned Owl, 1; Chuck-will’s-widow, 6; Eastern Whip-poor-will, 3; Chimney Swift, 44; Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 17; and Belted Kingfisher, 4.
Red-bellied Woodpecker, 20; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 3; Downy Woodpecker 15; Hairy Woodpecker 5; Northern Flicker, 12; Pileated Woodpecker, 16; Eastern Wood-Pewee 8; Acadian Flycatcher 29; Least Flycatcher 5; Eastern Phoebe, 44; Great Crested Flycatcher, 2; and Eastern Kingbird, 13.
White-eyed Vireo, 1; Yellow-throated Vireo, 1; Blue-headed Vireo, 29; Warbling Vireo, 1; Red-eyed Vireo, 157; Blue Jay, 59; American Crow, 139; Common Raven, 8; Purple Martin, 36; Tree Swallow, 94; Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 68; Cliff Swallow, 64; and Barn Swallow, 139.
Carolina Chickadee, 63; Tufted Titmouse, 47; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 3; White-breasted Nuthatch, 20; Brown Creeper, 1; Carolina Wren, 80; House Wren, 31; Winter Wren, 2; and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 27.
Eastern Bluebird, 46; Veery, 35; Wood Thrush, 37; American Robin, 435; Gray Catbird, 37; Northern Mockingbird, 37; Brown Thrasher, 14; European Starling, 464; and Cedar Waxwing, 71.
Ovenbird, 56; Worm-eating Warbler, 9; Louisiana Waterthrush, 5; Golden-winged Warbler, 1; Black-and-white Warbler, 19; Swainson’s Warbler, 6; Kentucky Warbler, 1; Common Yellowthroat, 2; Hooded Warbler, 78; American Redstart, 8; Northern Parula, 13; Magnolia Warbler, 1; Blackburnian Warbler, 2; Yellow Warbler, 1; Chestnut-sided Warbler, 23; Black-throated Blue Warbler, 20; Yellow-throated Warbler, 4; Prairie Warbler, 7; Black-throated Green Warbler, 30; Canada Warbler, 9; and Yellow-breasted Chat, 5.
Eastern Towhee, 70; Chipping Sparrow, 60; Field Sparrow, 12; Song Sparrow, 214; Dark-eyed Junco, 28; Scarlet Tanager, 20; Northern Cardinal, 138; Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 2; Blue Grosbeak, 1; and Indigo Bunting, 197.
Red-winged Blackbird, 101; Eastern Meadowlark, 13; Common Grackle, 94; Brown-headed Cowbird, 34; Orchard Oriole, 1; Baltimore Oriole, 1; House Finch, 8; American Goldfinch, 84; and House Sparrow, 64.
Knight noted that all 111 species found during the count are known or suspected to nest in Unicoi County. For instance, the three Bald Eagles found on the count included an adult bird and two recently fledged young. Eagles have been documented nesting near the Devil’s Looking Glass above the Nolichucky River for the past couple of years.
During the count, I stayed close to home with the territory of Limestone Cove and the portion of Sciota Road located within Unicoi County. Gary Wallace and John Whinery joined me for several hours of productive birding.
We found some birds I would never have expected to find so close to home, including singing Prairie Warblers and a noisy, scolding Yellow-breasted Chat. On Bean Creek Road near the state line with North Carolina, we also found a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker while walking a section of the Appalachian Trail. This was my first summer sighting of what is normally a winter bird in the region. In recent years, however, a few sapsuckers have started nesting in some of the local mountains.
We also missed some target birds. We checked out every pond we could view in our territory and failed to find a Green Heron.
Summer is also an extremely busy time of year for birds as they go about the business of bringing up a new generation of birds. Most birds have completed spring migration and have settled into locations they will call home for the next few months. During the recent Summer Bird Count in Unicoi County, we saw numerous young birds, ranging from Chipping Sparrows and Eastern Bluebirds to American Robins and Barn Swallows.
To ask a question, make a comment or share an observation, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a remark here at “Our Fine Feathered Friends.”