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Event Report - 4th Annual Christmas Bird Count

The 4th Annual Family Christmas Bird Count at BSES was marked by a beautiful snowfall and bitter cold conditions. Surprisingly, the 2017 count wasn’t our coldest; the 2015 count had temperatures in the mid-teens. Although conditions were far from ideal, fifteen hearty birders managed to find 20 different species!

Photo Credit: Jon Elliot

The purpose of the Christmas Bird Count is to collect scientific data on bird populations in an area. Winter is a good time to count birds since they are not migrating so the birds you are counting are more than likely winter residents to your area. The count gets its name, the Christmas Bird Count, because ornithologists organized this count every year on Christmas day as an alternative to hunting birds, a common practice in the 1800s. The first Christmas Bird Count occurred on December 25th, 1900 and was spearheaded by Frank Chapman, an author and ornithologist who wrote Bird-Lore, the predecessor to what would become Audubon Magazine.

We have had four Christmas Bird Counts at BSES. Of the four Christmas Bird Counts, this walk had the second highest species total. The lowest species total was 14 species in the walk’s first year in 2013, and the highest species total was on the 2016 count with an impressive 32 species. In 2016, temperatures were higher than usual which may have caused an increase in bird activity. Of all four years, I would say that this year’s conditions were most difficult for birding, making the 20 species find quite the feat. Since we have done this walk for multiple years, we have gathered data that we can further analyze about bird populations at BSES, and as we continue to do this walk, we will better understand and even begin to discover population trends of species on the nature trail.

One of the highlights of the walk was when Jack called in a Tufted Titmouse with his own impression. That’s right, he whistled an imitation of a Tufted Titmouse song and brought in multiple individuals throughout the walk. He’s the new bird whisperer of BSES!

Thank you to the Zweier family for keeping their birdfeeders full and attracting a lot of activity at the tail end of our walk. Birds at feeders can be counted in the Christmas Bird Count, and the large amount of bird activity helped our numbers and provided great views of American Goldfinch, House Finch, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, and Mourning Dove. We even had a male Eastern Towhee show up while observing the feeders as it first announced its presence with its “che-wink” call followed by perching right in the open for all to see through the scope!

A very special thank you to Mr. Piasecki and Mrs. Allen for hosting the Christmas Bird Count, and thanks to all those who braved though conditions to join us for an unforgettable count!

Here’s the list from the walk:

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S33503949

Bethel Springs E.S.--Nature Trail, Delaware, Pennsylvania, US

Jan 7, 2017 9:50 AM - 11:15 AM

Protocol: Traveling

1.0 mile(s)

Comments: Frozen precipitation with poor visibility. 19 degrees F with light winds. Checklist taken from BSES 4th Annual Christmas Bird Count.

20 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose 11

hawk sp. 1

Mourning Dove 5

Red-bellied Woodpecker 1

Downy Woodpecker 1

Blue Jay 8

American Crow 2

Carolina Chickadee 4

Tufted Titmouse 5 Called in by Jack C!

White-breasted Nuthatch 3

Carolina Wren 1

American Robin 4

Fox Sparrow 1 Heard

Dark-eyed Junco 8

White-throated Sparrow 3

Song Sparrow 2

Eastern Towhee 1

Northern Cardinal 3

House Finch 4

American Goldfinch 2

House Sparrow X

Checklists from previous CBCs:

2013: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S12536218

2014: Cancelled due to cold weather, but 2015 ended up being colder!

2015: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S21277223

2016: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S26791864

2017: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S33503949

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