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.
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
|American Black Duck||18|
|Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)||420|
|Great Blue Heron||63|
|Great Horned Owl||8|
103 species (plus 3 count week (CW))