Thursday, January 05, 2006

2005 Christmas Bird Count results for Pine County

The Pine County Christmas Bird Count was done last Wednesday, December 28th. Unfortunately I was not able to participate; Patty had invited me but I had to stay home with the kids that day. The results were recently posted on the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union listserv. In keeping with my goal of having this blog be an almanac of local natural phenomena, I'll share some of the findings, and how they differ, surprisingly, with my own observations.

A total of 33 species were seen. The top ten, by numbers, were:

1. Common Redpoll - 383
2. Black-capped Chickadee - 284
3. European Starling - 218
4. Evening Grosbeak - 212
5. Blue Jay - 122
6. Rock Pigeon - 108
7. American Crow - 80
8. Pine Siskin - 71
9. House Sparrow - 68
10. American Goldfinch - 55

I have yet to see a single redpoll at home or at work! And those elusive Evening Grosbeaks; I hear them in the treetops occasionally but so far they have stayed away from my feeder. The chickadee numbers come as no surprise; I have seen groups of ten to fifteen chickadees every day at my feeder. It seems there are more chickadees around this year than I have noticed in other years. I have seen one pine siskin sporadically, but goldfinches are regular visitors and number nearly as many as chickadees. Fortunately starlings, pigeons, and house sparrows are not common at my house; they prefer the barn loft and plentiful hay and manure at the place across the road.

The report goes on to say pine grosbeaks and purple finches were common at feeders; I have one lone purple finch that has been visiting, but no pine grosbeaks as of yet. I tried to photograph the purple finch without much success; the 10x optical zoom should be arriving shortly!

An interesting note was that downy woodpeckers were hard to find this year. I have at least one male and one female that have been visiting the feeder every day.

Uncommon species included one black-backed woodpecker, and one boreal chickadee in an area about twelve miles north of me. I saw a black backed woodpecker three years ago here, but have not seen one since. A boreal chickadee is on my list of birds I would like to see. The report said it was "called in"; I'll have to learn how to do that!

Another notable sighting was that of five golden-crowned kinglets. Ontario Wanderer has provided some good information on this species over at Whorled Leaves, the group nature/writing blog I'm a part of.

No northern owl species were reported; I have been scanning roadsides and fields on my way to and from work, although the light is still pretty dim then, hoping to see a great gray, northern hawk owl, or snowy owl. And I just know that great gray is hanging around somewhere near my place!

I had told Patty about my robin, and since then The Hermit has seen a couple of robins at a different location, but no robins were noted in the report, at least in the summary, which does not give a complete species list. Also, we have a ring-necked pheasant hanging around our horse pasture, very unusual for here.

I'll have to try to make it for the count next year. I could probably learn a lot from the more "hard-core" birders that participate, like how to call in a Boreal chickadee.


madcapmum said...

I'm a little surprised not to see ravens in your "Top Ten Greatest Hits of 2005", but maybe you're too far south for them? Your landscape looks so similar I always expect you to have the same critters.

Deb said...

Now that you mention it, that is a little surprising, because ravens are fairly common here. So common that whenever I see a large black bird, I have to look carefully to tell if it is a raven or crow.

Eleutheros said...

"..... and a partridge in a pear treeeeeee..."

madcapmum said...

How about magpies? Do you have them? Chive says he never saw one til he came out west from Ontario. He was staying with a friend in Northern Alberta, and looking out the window one morning, he asked, "What's that gorgeous bird?!"

Friend looked out and said, "Where? I don't see anything."

"There, that black and white bird in the tree! It's so exotic!"

His friend groaned in disgust. "THAT? Exotic? That's a magpie, and they're a pain in the @$$!"

Which they are, often enough, but then, so are peacocks if you have to live with them, I'd imagine.

Ontario Wanderer said...

I seldom get to see redpolls. They are such a joy when they do come by. Mostly, I see them further north if I remember to bring my binoculars when I go skiing.

Deb said...

I have not seen a magpie around here, although supposedly they are expanding their range and have been seen in the western part of the state.

The Hermit and I used to enjoy seeing them when we were driving through the mountains in Colorado. I thought they were pretty handsome!

Chris O'Byrne said...

For the entire year I spent living north of Virginia right on the edge of the Superior National Forest, I saw Evening Grosbeaks ONCE! A flock landed at my feeder, stayed about 20 minutes, and left forever and ever. Crazy birds!!

Laura said...

I never see goldfinches in winter here, or crows. Ravens are common, although I am told that this is new, probably since they have followed the highway roadkill buffets out onto the prairies from the forests to the north. I've never kept a feeder, so I don't know much about the smaller birds that are around. A swirl of snow buntings went over the yard the other day.

I am wondering, if this warm and snowless weather keeps up, maybe the horned larks will get confused and come back before winter even gets here, instead of just before we notice that it's leaving (late February or early March, if I remember correctly).