Annual Christmas Bird Count nets lower total than usual

Photo by Michael of Pixabay • A yellow-bellied sapsucker clings to the trunk of a tree. A total of 11 sapsuckers was found during the recent Elizabethton Bird Count.

The 80th consecutive Elizabethton Christmas Bird Count was held Saturday, Dec. 17. A total of 24 observers, myself included, in eight parties assisted by two feeder watchers participated.

The weather was less than ideal, with strong winds in parts of the coverage area. Participants tallied 61 species, which longtime count compiler Rick Knight noted was well below the recent 30 year average of 73 species. In fact, this was the lowest species total since 1970 when a mere 58 species were found.

Missed birds included ring-necked duck, horned grebe, ruffed grouse, Eurasian collared-dove, double-crested cormorant, barred owl, great horned owl, white-crowned sparrow; fox Sparrow and Eastern meadowlark.

Knight noted that reasons for the low number are complicated. The wind was a factor in some areas. Also, duck numbers have been generally low so far this winter. Blackbirds have been scarce in this area for most recent winters. Some half-hardy lingerers weren’t found, including house wren, brown thrasher and palm warbler. Some others are low-density wintering birds and were just missed.

So, what did the participants see?
Here’s the list:
Canada goose, 447; mallard, 210, bufflehead, 226; and hooded merganser, 5.
Wild turkey, 5; pied-billed grebe, 4; rock pigeon,148; mourning dove, 86; killdeer, 9; and Wilson’s snipe, 5.

Ring-billed gull 9; common loon, 2; great blue heron, 14; black vulture, 17; turkey vulture, 12; and American kestrel, 12.

Sharp-shinned hawk, 1; Cooper’s hawk, 6; Bald eagle, 5; red-tailed hawk, 22; and Eastern screech-owl, 7.

Belted kingfisher, 15; Red-bellied woodpecker, 26; yellow-bellied sapsucker, 11; downy woodpecker, 17; hairy woodpecker, 4; Northern flicker, 17; and pileated woodpecker, 11.

Eastern phoebe, 17; blue jay, 71; American crow, 733; and common raven, 14.
Carolina chickadee, 108; tufted titmouse, 91; red-breasted nuthatch, 4; white-breasted nuthatch, 45; brown creeper, 1; winter wren, 7; Carolina wren, 86; golden-crowned kinglet, 9; and ruby-crowned kinglet, 15.

Eastern bluebird, 149; hermit Thrush, 9; American robin, 122; Northern mockingbird, 41; Eurasian starling, 714; and cedar waxwing, 281.

Photo by Bryan Stevens • A male Northern cardinal visits a feeder on a snowy afternoon. Counters found 132 cardinals on the Elizabethton CBC.

House sparrow, 70; house finch 89; purple finch, 3; American goldfinch, 73; chipping Sparrow, 29; field Sparrow, 36; dark-eyed junco, 74; white-throated sparrow, 73; song sparrow, 97; swamp sparrow, 2; and Eastern towhee, 7.

Pine warbler, 2; yellow-rumped warbler, 75; and Northern cardinal, 132.

Observers included Bryan Stevens, Chris Soto, Brookie and Jean Potter, Don Holt, Dianne Draper, Eric Draper, Fred Alsop, Kevin Brooks, Judi Sawyer, Charlie Warden, Deb Mignogno, Rick Knight, Kim Stroud, Dave Gardner, Joe McGuiness, Vern Maddux, Roy Knispel, Pete Range, Harry Lee Farthing, Richard Lewis, Tammy Bright, Scott Turner, Larry McDaniel and David and Connie Irick.


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1 thought on “Annual Christmas Bird Count nets lower total than usual

  1. Sue Farthing

    I just saw your article about the bird count. Your birders did get to see a lot of wonderful birds . Sorry the numbers were down though. The photos of the Cardinal and the Yellow-bellied sapsucker are beautiful. Thank you for sharing the info.
    Sue Farthing



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