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2020 Christmas Bird Count

i Jan 10th No Comments by

Authored by Brian O’Shea

The 84th Raleigh CBC was conducted on December 19, 2020. The day started off chilly, with temperatures in the mid-20s in some spots, but warmed up nicely under clear skies. It was a great day to be out birding.

Although it was unfortunate that we could not place new participants with existing groups as we normally would, we still had great turnout for the count. All of the usual territories were covered, and a number of new participants turned in lists from parks, greenways, and backyards throughout the count circle. We had 72 participants (four more than last year!) in 32 parties, covering 153 party-miles (89 of them on foot) during 137 party-hours. That’s about 50% more party-hours and 15% more party-miles than we managed during 2019’s rainy morning count. That increase in coverage, plus better weather, improved our results dramatically.

And now what you’ve been waiting for . . .this year’s totals are (drumroll) . . . . 103 species and 16,365 individuals! That is seven more species than we got last year. Highlights of this year’s count were Red Crossbill at Shelley Lake and Vesper Sparrow on Midpines Road. Also notable were 16 Northern Pintail on Lake Benson. Overall, our waterfowl count was a bit lower than usual, owing to high water and generally mild weather to our north through early December, but many of our landbird counts were substantially higher than last year. The five most common species on this year’s count were White-throated Sparrow (1187), American Robin (1124), Canada Goose (943), Double-crested Cormorant (921), and Ring-billed Gull (759). We had a whopping 13 Gray Catbirds – possibly a count record – and four Black-and-white Warblers, tying our count from 2019. As many of you know, this has been a “superflight” year for Red-breasted Nuthatch and many finches, and we had great counts of both Purple Finch and Pine Siskin, both of which are easy to miss entirely during non-flight years. That king of winter finches, the Evening Grosbeak, eluded us on count day this year – but one was seen the following day at Shelley Lake, and so will make our “count week” list for the first time since 1998.

Pine Siskin on red maple. Photo by Kimberlie Dewey.

Pine Siskin on red maple. Photo by Kimberlie Dewey.

Orange-crowned Warbler. Photo by Sharon Kennedy.

Orange-crowned Warbler. Photo by Sharon Kennedy.

Five parties provided the only reports of 13 species: Lake Benson (Wild Turkey, American Black Duck, Northern Pintail, Wilson’s Snipe, Bonaparte’s Gull, Herring Gull, American Coot); Midpines Road (Red-headed Woodpecker, Horned Lark, Vesper Sparrow); Theys Farm (American Wigeon); Shelley Lake (Red Crossbill); and Prairie Ridge (White-crowned Sparrow). With the possible exception of Lesser Scaup (seen only during count week), we did not miss any of the regularly occurring species on this year’s count. Great job everyone!

I have appended the final list below.

A big thanks to everyone who participated on this year’s count! The 85th Raleigh CBC will be held on Saturday, December 18, 2021. Registration details will be available on Wake Audubon site, or you can contact me directly if you’d like to participate. Hope you all have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021! All the best, Brian

Species list – 84th Raleigh CBC, 19 December 2020

Wild Turkey 1
Mute Swan 12
Canada Goose 943
Wood Duck 41
Green-winged Teal 169
Gadwall 38
American Black Duck 18
Mallard 516
Northern Pintail 16
Northern Shoveler 37
American Wigeon 1
Ring-necked Duck 8
Lesser Scaup CW
Bufflehead 66
Hooded Merganser 120
Ruddy Duck 268
Pied-billed Grebe 16
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 420
Mourning Dove 160
Killdeer 79
Wilson’s Snipe 1
American Woodcock 4
Bonaparte’s Gull 1
Ring-billed Gull 759
Herring Gull 2
American Coot 5
Common Loon 2
Double-crested Cormorant 921
Great Blue Heron 63
Great Egret 8
Black Vulture 34
Turkey Vulture 99
Bald Eagle 16
Sharp-shinned Hawk 8
Cooper’s Hawk 8
Red-shouldered Hawk 55
Red-tailed Hawk 33
Great Horned Owl 8
Barred Owl 10
Belted Kingfisher 31
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 90
Red-headed Woodpecker 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 203
Downy Woodpecker 157
Hairy Woodpecker 16
Northern Flicker 94
Pileated Woodpecker 39
American Kestrel 10
Merlin CW
Eastern Phoebe 50
Blue-headed Vireo 3
Blue Jay 227
American Crow 323
Fish Crow 4
Common Raven 3
Horned Lark 1
Carolina Chickadee 373
Tufted Titmouse 261
Red-breasted Nuthatch 21
White-breasted Nuthatch 127
Brown-headed Nuthatch 132
Brown Creeper 19
House Wren 2
Winter Wren 18
Carolina Wren 389
Golden-crowned Kinglet 115
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 253
Eastern Bluebird 350
Hermit Thrush 46
American Robin 1124
Gray Catbird 13
Brown Thrasher 44
Northern Mockingbird 123
American Pipit 11
European Starling 739
Cedar Waxwing 445
House Finch 177
Purple Finch 82
Pine Siskin 535
American Goldfinch 391
Red Crossbill 1
Evening Grosbeak CW
House Sparrow 24
Chipping Sparrow 323
Field Sparrow 28
Savannah Sparrow 32
Fox Sparrow 17
Dark-eyed Junco 392
White-crowned Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 1187
Vesper Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 430
Swamp Sparrow 48
Eastern Towhee 150
Baltimore Oriole 13
Eastern Meadowlark 35
Red-winged Blackbird 179
Rusty Blackbird 84
Brown-headed Cowbird 466
Common Grackle 68
Black-and-white Warbler 4
Orange-crowned Warbler 2
Palm Warbler 6
Pine Warbler 65
Yellow-rumped Warbler 283
Northern Cardinal 517

103 species (plus 3 count week (CW))

16365 individuals

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