American Birds 2010-2011, Summary of the 111th Christmas Bird Count

Cover Page of American Birds 111: Summary of the CBC
Guy L. Monty

Much of the anticipation we feel when setting out on Christmas Bird Counts is from the expectation of finding the unexpected, or for that matter any brightly colored avian gem during the early winter period. While the Townsend's Warbler (Setophaga townsendii) can be found in large numbers of CBCs along the West Coast, it is also found as a vagrant in the East. One particularly lovely aspect of this species is that, unlike many other warblers, adult males retain their bright plumage through the winter--as illustrated by this stunning male in a setting especially fitting for the holidy season.

In this issue of American Birds you'll find a series of feature articles that highlight many aspects of the Christmas Bird Count. Leading things off is a short feature by Gary Langham, Audubon's new Vice President and Chief Scientist. Gary's daughter participated on her first CBC this past season; please note his invitation to share your CBC stories with Audubon. Next you'll find the article that represents the fruits of the labor of quick data entry by compilers of counts around the Gulf Coast this season.  This Gulf Coast analysis provides the yardstick by which we can measure the effects and recovery of the Gulf Coast region in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Other features highlight both exceptional experiences and local data analyses from counts across the hemisphere. Many of us have wonderful Christmas Bird Count tales to tell; we welcome hearing yours either by email at cbc@audubon.org or in manuscript form as a potential future feature article in American Birds.

Another all-time record number of Christmas Bird Counts was submitted to the database--2215;  1714 were included from the United States, 394 from Canada, and a whopping 107 in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. This record total was helped by two factors: an impressive list of new circles and a welcome influx of counts that for a variety of reasons have not been submitted to the database for some time.  Of particular note on the list of new circles is the first-ever CBC submitted from Haiti, at Les Cayes. For the historians among us, Les Cayes is the birthplace of none other than John James Audubon, and the start-up of this count represents a great effort on the part of participants there during the ongoing recovery from the earthquake and floods that have recently ravaged that island nation. Detailed in this issue is the list of 57 counts from Alaska to Ecuador exceeding the century mark for participation; these counts' hardworking and highly organized compilers had the largest pools of observers to keep busy on their respective count days. All counts combined tallied 61,359,451 birds; 57,542,123 in the United States, 3,355,759 in Canada, and 461,569 in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands species totals were impressive as well. In the United States during the 111th count, the total tally was 646 species, plus an additional 45 field-identifiable forms.

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