The 113th Christmas Bird Count

December 14, 2012 through January 5, 2013

By Geoffrey S. LeBaron

 

What are the factors that add up to make a particular Christmas Bird Count even greater than usual?  Of course, every CBC season is special in many ways, and each count has its own highlights.  That’s part of the magic of the Christmas Bird Count, and a key factor in the program’s long-term success.  But some years there’s a little extra something that pushes a Count over the top and into the record books in more ways than one.

The 113th Christmas Bird Count was one of those special seasons.  Bird-wise, there were several notable large-scale events that livened things up in far-flung regions; a varied host of boreal seed-eating species flooded southward during the fall, Snowy Owls started moving for the second  year in a row, and an amazing seabird event was developing off the Southeastern coast.  Weather-wise, we were lucky; in the big picture, climactic conditions during the 113th Count period were just about average, and the lack of a big continental weather event was a positive for the count.  It wasn’t too hot or too cold…just right.  And the other big factor, the one that made this season unique among all Counts since 1956 was that the 113th Christmas Bird Count was free, with no participant fees to clutter up compilers’ duties or potentially inhibit counters from joining in.

Northern Shrike
Photo by Grace and Ollie Oliver
Northern Shrike photographed on the East Lake Washington, WA count    Click on image to enlarge
The winter finch movement had begun in a big way during the fall of 2012, with hoards of Red-breasted Nuthatches and Pine Siskins heading southward by early November, followed by a spectacular movement of both Red and White-winged Crossbills, especially on the Northeastern coast.  In some areas mixed flocks of hundreds of crossbills were infesting coastal pine groves, sometimes landing on the cars, cameras, and even arms and heads of legions of ecstatic birders.  While boreal raptors did not make a large continental movement, Northern Shrikes began appearing to the south by mid-fall and Snowy Owls increased in the Pacific Northwest.  The stage was set for an exciting 113th Christmas Bird Count.

The avian catalysts, combined with the widely publicized announcement of the elimination of the participant fee for field observers on the Christmas Bird Count produced an unprecedented increase in both the number of counts included in a CBC season as well as the number of observers reported on counts.  The 112th CBC's short-lived records fell in each category after just one year; the total number of counts increased by 121 from 2,248 in the 112th Count to an astounding 2,369 counts in this 113th season, while the number of observers increased from last season’s record 63,227 to break the 70K barrier at 71,531 in the 113th Count!  Of those 2,369 circles, 1,849 were conducted in the United States, 417 in Canada, and 103 in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands.  We also had a record number of new circles included in the 113th CBC; Table 1 lists this season’s 107 new counts.  In most CBC results for a given Count we expect between 30 and 40 new circles; the 107 new circles this year include many from Wisconsin and Minnesota that have been run for decades, but not submitted to Audubon.  We are thrilled to have all these “new” counts come onboard, and in the long term will include all their historical data in the cumulative online Christmas Bird Count database.

Table 1.  New counts in the 113th (2012-2013) Christmas Bird Count

 Count                   Count Name

 Code

 CANADA

ABHA

Hanna, Alberta

ABHH

Handhills, Alberta

ABLD

Leduc, Alberta

ABWP

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

BCNC

Narcosli, British Columbia

NBMI

Miramichi, New Brunswick

NSBR

Bridgetown, Nova Scotia

NSCA

Caledonia, Nova Scotia

NSSU

Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia

NSTA

Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia

QCBM

Baie-Missisquoi, Quebec

SKBR

Broadview, Saskatchewan

SKFL

Floral, Saskatchewan

SKSF

Saskatchewan River Forks, Saskatchewan

YTTL

Takhini-Lake Laberge, Yukon Territory

 

UNITED STATES

ALAU

Auburn, Alabama

CAJO

San Joaquin River Gorge, California

COFA

Fairplay, Colorado

FLCL

Clermont, Florida

HIKO

Kaho'olawe, Hawaii

IABC

Buchanan County, Iowa

IDCA

Cascade, Idaho

IDCH

Challis, Idaho

IDJU

Juliaetta-Lower Potlatch River, Idaho

ILBR

Big Rock, Illinois

ILLY

Lyndon, Illinois

MDLR

Loch Raven, Maryland

MITV

Tittabawassee Valley, Michigan

MNAX

Alexandria, Minnesota

MNBP

Bluestem Prairie - Buffalo River S.P., Minnesota

MNCA

Cook Area, Minnesota

MNDL

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

MNFR

Fairmont, Minnesota

MNHS

Henderson, Minnesota

MNJC

Jackson County, Minnesota

MNLA

Lamberton, Minnesota

MNLP

Long Prairie, Minnesota

MNTA

Tamarac N.W.R., Minnesota

MNVI

Virginia, Minnesota

MOKI

Kirksville, Missouri

NCRO

Rockingham County, North Carolina

NYCP

Canton-Potsdam, New York

OHCC

Clark County, Ohio

OHFC

Fayette County, Ohio

OHTR

Tri-Reservoir, Ohio

PAGG

Gordon Glen Belsano, Pennsylvania

PAYS

York Springs, Pennsylvania

SCKE

Keowee, South Carolina

SCSI

Sea Islands, South Carolina

SDPR

Pine Ridge, South Dakota

TNDR

Duck River, Tennessee

TXCD

Cedar Hill, Texas

VTFR

East Franklin County, Vermont

WIAR

Arpin, Wisconsin

WIBF

Bayfield, Wisconsin

WIBH

Brodhead, Wisconsin

WIBK

Black River Falls, Wisconsin

WIBS

Brussels, Wisconsin

WIBU

Burlington, Wisconsin

WIBW

Birchwood, Wisconsin

WICG

Cedar Grove, Wisconsin

WICR

Caroline, Wisconsin

WICS

Collins, Wisconsin

WICY

Clyde, Wisconsin

WIDD

Dundee, Wisconsin

WIEL

Ellsworth, Wisconsin

WIEP

Ephraim, Wisconsin

WIFE

Fennimore, Wisconsin

WIFL

Florence, Wisconsin

WIGL

Green Lake, Wisconsin

WIGU

Gurney, Wisconsin

WIKV

Kickapoo Valley, Wisconsin

WILF

La Farge, Wisconsin

WILW

Lakewood, Wisconsin

WIME

Meadow Valley, Wisconsin

WIML

Montello, Wisconsin

WIMQ

Minoqua, Wisconsin

WIMT

Manitowoc, Wisconsin

WIMV

Menchalville, Wisconsin

WIMW

Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin

WINO

Norske, Wisconsin

WIOC

Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

WIPH

Phelps, Wisconsin

WIPL

Plymouth, Wisconsin

WIPS

Pensaukee, Wisconsin

WIRD

Rosendale, Wisconsin

WIRT

Retreat, Wisconsin

WISB

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

WISE

Stockbridge, Wisconsin

WISG

Sheboygan, Wisconsin

WISR

Superior, Wisconsin

WISV

Spring Valley, Wisconsin

WITL

Three Lakes, Wisconsin

WITP

Trempealeau, Wisconsin

WITR

Two Rivers, Wisconsin

WIWP

Waupaca, Wisconsin

 

CARIBBEAN, LATIN AMERICA

CLFC

Farallones de Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia

CLGS

PNN Galeras Sur, Nariño, Colombia

CLLK

PNN Los Katios, Chocó, Colombia

CLMP

Mocoa, Putumayo, Colombia

CLMS

Málaga, Santander, Colombia

CLPC

Parque del Agua, Cúcuta, Norte de Santander, Colombia

CUBE

Bermejas National Park, Cuba

CULS

Las Salinas National Park, Zapata Swamp, Matanzas, Cuba

CUVN

Viñales N. P., Pinar del Río, Cuba

ECBM

Los Bancos-Milpe, Ecuador

ECCH

Chiles-Chical, Ecuador

(107 new counts)

Of the amazing new record total number of observers, the break-downs are as follows:  56,027 were in the United States (48,984 in the field plus 7,043 at feeders); 13,243 included from Canada (9,287 field observers plus 3,960 at feeders); and 2,257 counted in Latin America, Bermuda and the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands (2,200 in the field and 57 at feeders).

Don’t forget to have a look at the complete list of all Christmas Bird Count circles and their compilers that were included in the 113th CBC; the link to the list is here:

http://birds.audubon.org/sites/default/files/documents/count_circles_-_code_-_compilers_for_the_113th_cbc_1.pdf

Many counts were highlighted by high participation numbers, rallying 100 or more observers in 70 circles this season. Table 2 documents the complete list of counts in the 113th CBC that achieved or exceeded the century mark for number of observers.

Table 2.  Counts with 100 or more participants in the 113th (2012-2013) CBC

Code        Count Name                                                                # Observers  (Field + Feeder)

ABED

Edmonton, AB

472

(130 + 342)

ORPD

Portland, OR

390

(238 + 152)

WATA

Tacoma, WA

364

(74 + 290)

MACO

Concord, MA

306

(159 + 147)

CASB

Santa Barbara, CA

270

(266 + 4)

BCVI

Victoria, BC

269

(230 + 39)

OREU

Eugene, OR

255

(157 + 98)

ABCA

Calgary, AB

249

(136 + 113)

ALGU

Guntersville, AL

245

(18 + 227)

CAOA

Oakland, CA

216

(201 + 15)

AKAN

Anchorage, AK

208

(153 + 55)

ONPN

Elliot Lake (Penokean Hills), ON

192

(15 + 177)

CAPR

Point Reyes Peninsula, CA

188

(188 + 0)

WASE

Seattle, WA

182

(182 + 0)

OHCF

Cuyahoga Falls, OH

181

(141 + 40)

COCS

Colorado Springs, CO

177

(162 + 15)

ECNM

Mindo-Tandayapa, Ecuador

165

(158 + 7)

SCSC

Sun City-Okatie, SC

161

(139 + 22)

ECYY

Yanayacu, Ecuador

159

(156 + 3)

NSHD

Halifax-Dartmouth, NS

158

(85 + 73)

SCHH

Hilton Head Island, SC

158

(150 + 8)

VAFB

Fort Belvoir, VA

158

(156 + 2)

ABSA

St. Albert, AB

157

(38 + 119)

CODE

Denver, CO

155

(137 + 18)

ONLO

London, ON

153

(119 + 34)

PAPI

Pittsburgh, PA

153

(109 + 44)

ONTO

Toronto, ON

152

(152 + 0)

CAOC

Orange County (coastal), CA

151

(151 + 0)

BCVA

Vancouver, BC

150

(147 + 3)

DCDC

Washington, DC

149

(145 + 4)

ONOH

Ottawa-Gatineau, ON

146

(132 + 14)

COBO

Boulder, CO

145

(137 + 8)

CAMC

Marin County (southern), CA

142

(139 + 3)

MANO

Northampton, MA

141

(133 + 8)

NSWO

Wolfville, NS

141

(57 + 84)

NYIT

Ithaca, NY

138

(122 + 16)

CASD

San Diego, CA

133

(132 + 1)

CODV

Denver (urban), CO

133

(114 + 19)

OHCI

Cincinnati, OH

130

(103 + 27)

AZTV

Tucson Valley, AZ

190

(123 + 6)

CASZ

Sonoma Valley, CA

126

(124 + 2)

BCGS

Galiano-North Saltspring, BC

124

(106 + 18)

NSKI

Kingston, NS

123

(27 + 96)

VACL

Central Loudon, VA

122

(118 + 4)

CAWS

Western Sonoma County, CA

121

(121 + 0)

CTHA

Hartford, CT

120

(113 + 7)

SKSA

Saskatoon, SK

120

(69 + 61)

NJLH

Lower Hudson, NJ-NY

119

(119 + 0)

TXMM

Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh, TX

119

(119 + 0)

ILFB

Fermilab-Batavia, IL

117

(116 + 1)

TXAU

Austin, TX

117

(115 + 2)

UTSL

Salt Lake City, UT

116

(101 + 15)

CRLS

La Selva, Lower Braulio Carillo N.P., Costa Rica

114

(114 + 0)

CASF

San Francisco, CA

113

(112 + 1)

ILWA

Waukegan, IL

113

(24 + 79)

MTMI

Missoula, MT

113

(88 + 25)

ONHA

Hamilton, ON

113

(103 + 10)

CASJ

San Jose, CA

112

(111 + 1)

PACH

Chambersburg, PA

112

(80 + 32)

QCQU

Quebec, QC

112

(93 + 19)

AKFA

Fairbanks, AK

110

(76 + 34)

MDSE

Seneca, MD

109

(103 + 6)

VAMB

Manassas-Bull Run, VA

109

(108 + 1)

LABR

Baton Rouge, LA

107

(43 + 64)

WASD

Sequim-Dungeness, WA

105

(86 + 19)

WIMA

Madison, WI

105

(101 + 4)

CACS

Crystal Springs, CA

104

(100 + 4)

ILLA

Lisle Arboretum, IL

103

(95 + 8)

MAGB

Greater Boston, MA

102

(102 + 0)

NYBW

Bronx-Westchester Region, NY

100

(97 + 3)

 

Despite the major jump in number of counts and overall participation in the 113th Count, the total number of birds tallied was actually somewhat lower than average over the past several seasons, at 64,133,843 (59,909,567 birds in the United States, 3,750,851 in Canada, and 473,425 in Latin America, Bermuda and the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands).  This does not necessarily mean that bird numbers are declining, but rather that the large concentrations of birds that sometimes are tallied within a few Christmas Bird Count circles (roosts of blackbirds, starlings, robins, or crows) happened to be outside the areas that were covered this season.  This may have been a result of the relatively ice- and snow-free conditions over much of North America; with lots of welcoming habitat to occupy, birds did not necessarily need to be concentrated in the areas within CBC circles that are often considered to be most productive during harsher winter seasons.

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Photo by Jim Humter
Red-Breasted Nuthatch photographed on the Old Lyme-Saybrook, CT count    Click on image to enlarge
Evening Grosbeak
Photo by Vivek Tiwari
Evening Grosbeak photographed on the Palo Alto, CA count    Click on image to enlarge










The previous trend notwithstanding, many superb species totals were tallied during the 113th Christmas Bird Count.  The highest total in the United States and Canada again was at Brent Ortego’s Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh, Texas count at 232 species.  This total is lower than in some seasons past, largely due to inclement weather on count day and the ongoing severe drought in Texas.  To get a taste of what it’s like to be on the top count in North America, check out the video here  http://birds.audubon.org/videos/christmas-bird-count-coastal-texas.  In Latin America, top dog counts in Ecuador continue to challenge each other for high species honors.  Long-standing champion Mindo-Tandayapa, Ecuador was slightly bested again this season by Yanayacu, Ecuador—though of course many of the same participants attend each count!  This season, Yanayacu beat last year’s total by one with 493 species total; Mindo was hot on their heels at 455.  To check out all the counts with 150 or more species tallied this season, please see Table 3.

Table 3:  Counts with 150 or more species recorded in the 113th (2012-2013) CBC

Table 3a:  Counts north of the United States-Mexican border

Count             Rank       Count Name                                                                             Species

Code                                                                                                                               Recorded

TXMM

1

Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh, TX

232

CASD

2

San Diego, CA

214

CASB

3

Santa Barbara, CA

213

TXGF

4

Guadalupe River Delta-McFadden Ranch, TX

212

CAOC

5

Orange County (coastal), CA

210

CARS

6

Rancho Santa Fe, CA

202

CAMR

7

Morro Bay, CA

198

CATO

8

Thousand Oaks, CA

196

TXFR

9

Freeport, TX

196

CAPR

10

Point Reyes Peninsula, CA

195

CAMD

11

Moss Landing, CA

194

CAOV

11

Oceanside-Vista-Carlsbad, CA

194

TXSB

13

San Bernard N.W.R., TX

193

CACB

14

Centerville Beach to King Salmon, CA

190

CACS

15

Crystal Springs, CA

188

CAMC

16

Marin County (southern), CA

185

CAWS

17

Western Sonoma County, CA

184

TXPA

18

Port Aransas, TX

183

CAVE

19

Ventura, CA

181

CASJ

20

San Jose, CA

179

CAOA

21

Oakland, CA

178

TXWS

22

Weslaco, TX

176

CAMP

23

Monterey Peninsula, CA

175

CASF

23

San Francisco, CA

175

CALA

25

Los Angeles, CA

174

TXCC

25

Corpus Christi, TX

174

CABE

27

Benicia, CA

171

CASZ

27

Sonoma Valley, CA

171

GASV

27

Savannah, GA-SC

171

SCMC

27

McClellanville, SC

171

CAHF

31

Hayward-Fremont, CA

170

CALB

31

Long Beach-El Dorado, CA

170

CAPP

31

Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA

170

FLNR

31

West Pasco (New Port Richey), FL

170

NJCM

35

Cape May, NJ

169

ORCB

36

Coos Bay, OR

168

LASA

37

Sabine N.W.R., LA

166

NCSB

37

Southport-Bald Head-Oak Islands, NC

166

CASU

39

San Juan Capistrano, CA

165

FLAL

39

Alafia Banks, FL

165

TXGA

39

Galveston, TX

165

AZGV

42

Green Valley-Madera Canyon, AZ

164

CAAN

42

Año Nuevo, CA

164

CASC

44

Santa Cruz County, CA

163

NCWI

44

Wilmington, NC

163

TXAP

44

Attwater Prairie Chicken N.W.R., TX

163

FLGA

47

Gainesville, FL

162

FLSP

47

St. Petersburg, FL

162

CACT

49

Cheep Thrills, CA

161

CAPA

49

Palo Alto, CA

161

FLJA

51

Jacksonville, FL

160

LALT

51

Lacassine N.W.R.-Thornwell, LA

160

TXHG

51

Harlingen, TX

160

NCMC

54

Morehead City, NC

159

TXCF

54

Corpus Christi (Flour Bluff), TX

159

CACN

56

Carpinteria, CA

158

FLSR

56

Sarasota, FL

158

TXSA

56

Santa Ana N.W.R., TX

158

FLSM

59

St. Marks, FL

157

FLNP

60

North Pinellas, FL

156

CACU

61

Cachuma, CA

155

CAEA

61

Eastern Alameda County, CA

155

CARC

61

Rio Cosumnes, CA

155

FLAB

61

Aripeka-Bayport, FL

155

FLMI

61

Merritt Island N.W.R., FL

155

FLSB

61

South Brevard County, FL

155

MDOC

61

Ocean City, MD

155

ORCV

61

Coquille Valley, OR

155

TXBP

61

Bolivar Peninsula, TX

155

TXSR

61

Sea Rim S.P., TX

155

CAPS

71

Pasadena-San Gabriel Valley, CA

154

CASS

71

Salton Sea (south), CA

154

LASC

71

Sweet Lake-Cameron Prairie N.W.R., LA

154

TXBR

71

Brazoria, TX

154

TXBV

71

Brownsville, TX

154

AZTV

76

Tucson Valley, AZ

153

CACC

76

Contra Costa County, CA

153

CAON

76

Orange County (northeastern), CA

153

NCMA

76

Mattamuskeet N.W.R., NC

153

SCCA

76

Charleston, SC

153

TXBZ

76

Brazos Bend, TX

153

TXCY

76

Cypress Creek, TX

153

CAMU

83

Malibu, CA

152

CASM

83

Sacramento, CA

152

LAWL

83

White Lake, LA

152

MSJC

83

Jackson County, MS

152

TXHO

83

Houston, TX

152

AZRC

88

Ramsey Canyon, AZ

151

CALU

88

La Purisima, CA

151

FLCO

88

Cocoa, FL

151

SCAB

88

Ace Basin, SC

151

SCHH

88

Hilton Head Island, SC

151

TXAU

88

Austin, TX

151

TXAY

88

Armand Bayou, TX

151

TXLS

88

La Sal Vieja, TX

151

TXRO

88

Rockport, TX

151

CAES

97

Escondido, CA

150

LABR

97

Baton Rouge, LA

150

SCLP

97

Litchfield-Pawleys Island, SC

150

SCWB

97

Winyah Bay, SC

150

TXLA

97

Laguna Atascosa N.W.R., TX

150

VACC

97

Cape Charles, VA

150

 

Table 3b:  Counts south of the United States-Mexican border

ECYY

1

Yanayacu, Ecuador

493

ECNM

2

Mindo-Tandayapa, Ecuador

455

CRPR

3

Pacific Rainforest Aerial Tram-Carara Reserve, Costa Rica

387

CRRF

4

Rain Forest Aerial Tram, Costa Rica

374

CRCF

5

Western Cloud Forest, Balsa, Costa Rica

351

CRLS

6

La Selva, Lower Braulio Carillo N.P., Costa Rica

348

ECBM

7

Los Bancos-Milpe, Ecuador

332

ECCH

8

Chiles-Chical, Ecuador

318

RPPC

9

Pacific Canal Area, Panama

308

CROP

10

Osa Peninsula, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

254

CRMO

11

Monteverde, Costa Rica

246

RPAC

12

Atlantic Canal Area, Panama

244

BLPG

13

Punta Gorda, Belize

240

ECLA

14

Loma Alta, Ecuador

234

RPCC

15

Central Canal Area, Panama

230

GMAV

16

Atitlan Volcano, Guatemala

228

MXES

17

Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico

188

CRSR

18

Santa Rosa – Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, Costa Rica

185

TRTR

19

Trinidad, W.I.

183

MXNP

20

Navopatia, Mexico

172

RPVC

21

Volcan, Chiriqui, Panama

171

NIRJ

22

Reserva el Jaguar, Jinotega, Nicaragua

170

CRCA

23

Cacao - Area de Conservacion Guancaste, Costa Rica

163

MXCZ

24

Coast of Central Veracruz, Mexico

161

CLRP

25

Reserva de Planalto, Caldas, Colombia

158

ECRU

26

Rio Upano, Morona-Santiago, Ecuador

157

MXAL

26

Alamos, Sonora, Mexico

157

MXMM

28

Reserva Monte Mojino (REMM), Sonora, Mexico

154

 

Even though we have over 100 more CBCs than ever before included in the 113th Count, the total number of species tallied in the United States was lower than in most recent seasons, at 640 species and 48 infraspecific forms.  One primary reason for this lower number is the lack of the critical Northwestern Chain counts in Hawaii; a series of storms in the Pacific earlier in the season devastated the islands, and the facilities needed for staff to conduct the counts on the French Frigate Shoals, Midway Island, and Laysan Island were destroyed.  Thus those counts were not conducted in the 113th Count, and the amazing variety (and number) of seabirds and endemic species tallied only on those islands are not included in this season’s totals.

Citrine Wagtail #2
Photo by Mike Yip
Citrine Wagtail 1st ever CBC record, tallied on the Comox, British Colombia count     Click on image to enlarge
  One species was added to the cumulative list of birds found on Christmas Bird Counts in the United States—Little Egret at Mid-Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  The only other report of this species on a CBC came from Bermuda back in the 1980s.  In Canada, 292 species were tallied across the country, including two new additions, the long-staying Citrine Wagtail at Comox, British Columbia and an amazing Scarlet Tanager at Williams Lake, British Columbia.  The Citrine Wagtail is a new addition to the overall CBC list, while Scarlet Tanager has been reported very few times before in North America—but frequently from the South American CBCs.

Of course there are over 100 counts conducted outside the borders of the United States and Canada, and the cumulative list of species on all counts climbs each season as more counts are included in new areas and countries each season.  We welcomed three new CBCs in Cuba this season, and for the first time ever the tiniest bird in the world—the Bee Hummingbird—was included in CBC results, along with many other wonderful species only found in Cuba.  These join the ever-growing list of endemic and highly range-restricted birds, many of which are highly threatened, that are tallied on CBCs each season from the far-flung Hawaiian Islands through the Caribbean to the mountain valleys of the Andes.  This season’s full species tally was a lofty 2,296 species, very slightly lower than the 2,298 recorded in last season’s 112th CBC.

Vermilion Flycatcher
Photo by Carlos Escamilla
Vermilion Flycatcher photographed on the Laredo, TX count     Click on image to enlarge

While the ultimate goal of participating on a Christmas Bird Count is tallying a representative sample of the birds in the circle on count day, the natural competitive spirit of birders is what drives us to do the most thorough job possible.  Regional rivalries (as well as the drive to best our own count’s species total) add emphasis to the task.  Table 4 presents the list of CBCs attaining the highest regional species totals in the 113th Christmas Bird Count—congratulations to one and all!

 

 

 

Table 4:  Regional high counts for the 113th (2012-2013) CBC

     Region                               # of CBCs                                       Highest Count (species total)

St. Pierre & Miquelon

1

Ile-St.-Pierre

(58)

Newfoundland

9

St. John’s

(74)

Nova Scotia

28

Halifax-Dartmouth

(127)

Prince Edward Island

3

East Point

(52)

New Brunswick

16

Grand Manan Island

(69)

Quebec

36

Quebec City

(86)

Ontario

109

Long Point

(112)

Manitoba

20

Winnipeg

(54)

Saskatchewan

33

Saskatoon

(42)

Alberta

45

Calgary

(65)

British Columbia

90

Ladner

(146)

Northwest Territories

4

Fort Simpson

(17)

 

 

Hay River

(17)

Nunavut

3

Arviat

(4)

Yukon Territory

10

Whitehorse

(27)

Alaska

38

Ketchikan

(79)

Maine

32

Greater Portland

(110)

New Hampshire

18

Coastal New Hampshire

(116)

Vermont

19

Ferrisburg

(82)

Massachusetts

33

Mid-Cape Cod

(144)

Rhode Island

4

Newport County-Westport

(139)

Connecticut

16

New Haven

(132)

New York

72

L.I.: Brooklyn

(134)

New Jersey

29

Cape May

(169)

Pennsylvania

74

Southern Lancaster County

(115)

Delaware

7

Bombay Hook N.W.R.

(140)

Maryland

24

Ocean City

(155)

District of Columbia

1

Washington

(94)

Virginia

47

Cape Charles

(150)

North Carolina

49

Southport-Bald Head-Oak Islands

(166)

South Carolina

27

McClellanville

(171)

Georgia

25

Savannah, GA-SC

(171)

Florida

70

West Pasco (New Port Richey)

(170)

Ohio

62

Toledo

(110)

West Virginia

20

Charles Town

(76)

Kentucky

16

Land between the Lakes

(89)

Tennessee

30

Reelfoot Lake

(112)

Alabama

10

Gulf Shores

(146)

Mississippi

18

Jackson County

(152)

Michigan

68

Anchor Bay

(98)

Indiana

41

Western Gibson County

(107)

Wisconsin

111

Madison

(87)

Illinois

62

Rend Lake

(104)

 

 

Union County

(104)

Minnesota

67

Red Wing

(61)

Iowa

30

Saylorville Reservoir

(98)

Missouri

27

Horton-Four River

(106)

Arkansas

23

Holla Bend N.W.R.

(125)

Louisiana

23

Sabine N.W.R.

(166)

North Dakota

19

Fargo-Moorhead

(67)

 

 

Garrison Dam

(67)

South Dakota

19

Pierre

(88)

Nebraska

12

Lake McConaughy

(111)

Kansas

23

Wilson Reservoir

(106)

Oklahoma

18

Tishomingo N.W.R.

(127)

Texas

111

Matagorda County-Mad Island Marsh

(232)

Montana

32

Stevensville

(89)

Idaho

30

Bruneau

(107)

Wyoming

20

Casper

(74)

Colorado

48

Penrose

(124)

New Mexico

30

Albuquerque

(122)

Utah

25

St. George

(104)

Nevada

14

Truckee Meadows

(109)

Arizona

35

Green Valley-Madera Canyon

(164)

Washington

42

Sequim-Dungeness

(143)

Oregon

41

Coos Bay

(168)

California

128

San Diego

(214)

Hawaii

12

O’ahu: Honolulu

(51)

Pacific Islands

5

Saipan

(48)

Mexico

21

Ensenada, Baja California

(188)

Belize

1

Punta Gorda

(240)

Guatemala

2

Atitlan Volcano

(228)

Nicaragua

2

Reserva El Jaguar, Jinotega

(170)

Costa Rica

8

Pacific Rainforest Adventures Pacific

(387)

Panama

4

Pacific Canal Area

(308)

Colombia

26

Reserva de Planalto, Caldas, Colombia

(158)

Ecuador

7

Yanayacu

(493)

Brazil

3

Manaus (east)

(75)

Trinidad

1

Trinidad

(183)

Bahamas

4

New Providence Island

(104)

Cuba

3

Bermejas National Park

(75)

Dominican Republic

2

Puerto Escondido

(56)

Haiti

1

Les Cayes

(63)

Puerto Rico

4

Cabo Rojo

(134)

British Virgin Islands

2

Tortola

(51)

U.S. Virgin Islands

3

St. Croix

(66)

 

 

St. John

(66)

Bermuda

1

Bermuda

(101)

 

And don’t forget to take a look at the 113th CBC Regional Summaries, now presented via a mapping interface and also as a list of links on the CBC website http://birds.audubon.org/113th-christmas-bird-count-alphabetical-index-r... .  Our team of CBC Regional Editors http://birds.audubon.org/programs/cbc/cbc-regional-editors does an amazing job, both reviewing counts and summarizing results from the varied areas included in each CBC season.  Without their expertise—and the eagle eyes of all Compilers—the database generated by all of us would be nowhere near as important as it has become.

On an overall continental basis, the weather during the 113th Christmas Bird Count was…well…pretty normal.  The Mid-Atlantic region and especially coastal New York and New Jersey had been battered by Superstorm Sandy in late October, and the lingering effects of that storm’s destruction negatively impacted some circles along the Eastern Seaboard.  Some regions, especially around the Great Lakes, were a bit warmer than usual while others including the Pacific Northwest and the Mid-Atlantic were cooler than usual— though as extreme weather events increase and our climate changes, usual is a term that seems to be less descriptive every year.  While storms impacted some counts in a few regions, overall this season was what we’ve come to expect as average weather in recent decades.  The deep drought continues in some areas of the south and west, though there are signs it may be abating slightly.  And the winter finch forecast published by Ron Pittaway in Ontario held promise for a range of boreal seed- and fruit-eating species moving away from their expected winter ranges.

And move they did—starting in mid-fall with a big flight of Red-breasted Nuthatches and Pine Siskins, followed by both Red and White-winged crossbills, then Common Redpolls and even fair number of Evening Grosbeaks.  The crossbills were especially prominent in the east, particularly along the coast, while siskins and Red-breasted Nuthatches pushed far south across much of the continent.  Pine Grosbeaks moved south in numbers in the Northeast and in the Pacific Northwest, Bohemian Waxwings showed especially good numbers in western Canada, and Purple Finches also vacated the northern latitudes for southern regions of North America.

It wasn’t anticipated that raptors would move, and most species like Gyrfalcon and Rough-legged Hawk were tallied in average numbers in expected locales.  But Snowy Owls undertook an echo flight after last year’s major influx, though the 113th Season’s flight was much more omnidirectional to the northern Great Plains, northern Rockies, and Pacific Northwest.  In fact, the number of Snowy Owls in some parts of the Northwest was even greater than last season’s flight.  It will be interesting to see what this magnificent Arctic predator does in the upcoming 114th CBC.

But even more extraordinary than the finches and Snowy Owls, was an unprecedented movement of Razorbills in huge numbers far south of their normal range off the East Coast of North America.  The Razorbill is an alcid (a puffin relative) of the North Atlantic, and breeds on cliffs and offshore islands in large colonies especially in the Atlantic Provinces, Greenland, Iceland, and the British Isles and Northern Europe.  The normal wintering range in the western North Atlantic is at sea off the Atlantic Provinces and New England, with some found south to the Mid-Atlantic and Cape Hatteras.

Prior to the 113th CBC something major happened with Razorbills, apparently as a result of warming sea temperatures in the North Atlantic which depressed their usual piscine food supply.  Hungry Razorbills headed south—almost 1,000 miles farther south than normal—in tremendous numbers.  Prior to this past fall there were only 14 records of Razorbill in Florida; in the 113th CBC 20 different counts tallied Razorbill in the Sunshine State, including the Dry Tortugas near Cuba and Pensacola in the upper Gulf of Mexico.  The sixth highest tally of Razorbill in the 113th CBC was in Florida—an amazing 600 birds counted off the beaches of Miami on the Dade County count, nearly 1,000 miles away from their normal winter range!  Razorbills were also tallied on most coastal counts in North Carolina, plus South Carolina, Georgia, and even (as a count week species) all the way around to Gulf Shores, Alabama.

As spectacular as this was for birders in the Southeast, it may have indicated disaster for the Razorbills themselves.  Many birds getting that far south were probably food-stressed, and Razorbills were found moribund and captured for rehabilitation or washed up dead on beaches up and down the East Coast.  It’s unknown how many of these birds—if any at all—were able to return northward to their breeding grounds in the high North Atlantic for the summer of 2013.  The breeding success of Razorbills and many other alcids has been declining in recent years, mostly in response to declining supplies of the small fish needed to feed their nestlings as ocean temperatures rise.  Researchers are closely monitoring the productivity of many species of alcids in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans, and Christmas Bird Count data are an integral part of understanding how these seabirds are faring in the non-breeding season.

And so we all set afield during the 113th Christmas Bird Count in anticipation of our own special sightings.  Back in Rhode Island we had a lovely day for our Newport-Westport census.  It was sunny and relatively warm, with little wind.  My first highlight of the day was, indeed, a Razorbill, seemingly comfortably cruising around close off the end of the breakwater my field partner Tom and I had hiked out too for our morning seawatch.  Razorbills are not all that unusual on this count, but it’s always a treat to spot one.

As with thousands of observers in many other areas our main hope was to catch a bit of the ongoing crossbill flight.  Local list serves had been alive with amazing first-hand reports of up-close-and-personal interactions with these boreal finches.  In mid-morning a gaggle of White-winged Crossbills twittered by at some distance—we tallied them for the count, but it wasn’t exactly the close encounter we’d anticipated.  We pressed on with our route, a Northern Harrier coursing over the fields and a gaggle of Harlequin Ducks offshore.  Despite the apparent lack of crossbills, it was certainly a nice place to count birds!

Then, there it was—“kip…kip kip…kip kip kip…”—Red Crossbills!  But where were they?  The piping stopped, and we resumed our search through the scattered pines with renewed intensity.  The birds finally magically appeared, mousing around in the cones of a small isolated pine tree in the middle of a field.  It’s amazing how cryptic a flock of brick-red and olive-green birds can be, but crossbills are famously tame and we were able to approach the tree to get a good count.  All the birds appeared to be adults, with more males present than females, and we recorded their voices for later identification of which types of Red Crossbills they were as categorized by their call notes.  We lingered with them for a bit, noting their behavior as they confidingly ignored our attention.  Suddenly, one female began quivering her wings, tail down and head up—an offer to a nearby male to initiate courtship feeding, and he accepted her invitation.  Courtship feeding wasn’t something we’d expected to see during the CBC, but we shouldn’t really have been surprised—crossbills can breed at any month of the year in any location where there is an abundant supply of cone seeds.  These birds moved on, however, off to the next seed-laden pine grove.

Did they move south from Rhode Island, or north, or disperse to the inland forests?  Did they end up nesting locally?  Who knows—in reality only the birds themselves do.  But by heading out for a day or so of careful birding on Christmas Bird Counts year after year we birders have become Citizen Scientists, and the growing combined pool of sightings we contribute helps researchers understand how the objects of our attention are faring in a way that Frank M. Chapman, the father of the Christmas Bird Count, could never have conceived of back in 1900.