2011 Christmas Bird Count

The weather on Count Day was spectacular with sunshine, calm winds for most of the day and the temperature topped out at 44 degrees Fahrenheit. I even had a report that one of the field participants took a nap in the sunshine. We had a total of 85 species for the Count which is a record. The previous high was 79. There were 76 participants in the field and 22 feeder watchers.

The most unusual bird was a Lewis’s woodpecker and we ended up with two; Fred Rush had one at his sunflower seed feeder which had been a regular all fall and Norm & Cathy Smyers’s group had a second one at the Tower St. Open Space parking lot. The western screech owl at Gordon & Sue Skaggs’ landscaped yard and the barred owl that Terry Toppins found at Maclay Flat were both unusual. Sue Reel and Dick Hutto had a yellow‐rumped warbler and a ruby‐crowned kinglet at Sleven’s Island. Will McDowell and Rob Holden had five snow buntings on North Hills. Roger Hogan’s feeder at his Big Flat home had the only Harris’ sparrow. Denver Holt’s group had 11 horned larks and a white‐crowned sparrow in addition to 36 long‐eared owls. Kristi DuBois, who was elk hunting in the mountains above LaValle Creek, had the only golden eagle. Cathy Ream and her group birded LaValle and Butler Creeks and had the only gray jay and Steller’s jay. Cathy’s group also birded the 160‐acre conservation easement owned by the Boehmlers for the first time. Jim Brown, who birded the Mastel Ranch and Trout Meadows, had the only wood ducks, green‐winged teal, gadwall, and marsh wrens. Jim Sparks had the only Barrow’s goldeneye in the Clark Fork River near the Van Buren walk bridge. Paul Hendricks’ group had the only dusky grouse on the hike from Marshall Canyon to Woods Gulch. Cynthia Hudson’s group had the only Brewer’s blackbird on the Council Grove ‐ Kona Ranch section and Terry Toppins had the only pied‐billed grebe in the Bitterroot River.

White‐throated sparrows were found at two locations; Denver had one West of the airport and Jeane Fevold and Dick Hutto shared another one at their feeders on Creekwood Road. Poody and Joe Regan had three northern saw‐whet owls on Kelly Island. Brian Williams and his group had a chestnut‐backed chickadee and a northern three‐toed woodpecker on the Stewart Peak trail. Other group leaders included Rose Leach (Mullan Road), Robin Anderson (UM & Greenough Park), and Zona Lindemann (Orchard homes & Target Range).

Total birds for the Count were 9,332 which is well above the 13 year average of 8,300. The total for one individual species that stood out from the rest was red‐breasted nuthatch at 978. There were 3 birds that were seen during Count Week that were not seen on Count Day; hummingbird species, red‐naped sapsucker and Cassin’s finch. The feeder watchers had 40 species and 886 total birds. We did miss gray partridge which was the first time in the past 14 years. Overall, it was a super Count and my thanks to all the participants.

Pied‐billed grebe (1) Great horned owl (15) Marsh wren (2)
Great blue heron (43) Northern pygmy owl (3) American dipper (4)
Canada goose (514) Barred owl (1) Golden‐crowned kinglet (26)
Wood duck (2) Long‐eared owl (43) Ruby‐crowned kinglet (1)
Green‐winged teal (57) Northern saw‐whet owl (4) Townsend’s solitaire (23)
Mallard (671) Hummingbird species (CW) American robin (35)
Northern pintail (11) Belted kingfisher (23) Bohemian waxwing (1069)
Gadwall (9) Lewis’s woodpecker (2) Cedar waxwing (135)
Common goldeneye (93) Red‐naped sapsucker (CW) Northern shrike (9)
Barrow’s goldeneye (1) Downy woodpecker (46) European starling (54)
Common merganser (8) Hairy woodpecker (13) Yellow‐rumped warbler (1)
Bald eagle (31) No. 3‐toed woodpecker (2) American tree sparrow (33)
Golden eagle (1) Northern flicker (157) Song sparrow (46)
Northern harrier (21) Pileated woodpecker (18) White‐throated sparrow (2)
Sharp‐shinned hawk (6) Horned lark (11) White‐crowned sparrow (1)
Cooper’s hawk (6) Gray jay (1) Harris’s sparrow (1)
Red‐tailed hawk (81) Steller’s jay (2) Dark‐eyed junco (163)
Rough‐legged hawk (72) Clark’s nutcracker (22) Snow bunting (5)
American kestrel (9) Black‐billed magpie (396) Red‐winged blackbird (1087)
Merlin (2) American crow (399) Brewer’s blackbird (2)
Ring‐necked pheasant (26) Common raven (214) Pine grosbeak (87)
Dusky grouse (1) Black‐capped chickadee (573) Cassin’s finch (CW)
Ruffed grouse (6) Mountain chickadee (55) House finch (327)
Wild turkey (52) Chestnut‐backed chickadee (3) Red crossbill (225)
Killdeer (47) Red‐breasted nuthatch (978) Common redpoll (68)
Wilson’s snipe (5) White‐breasted nuthatch (67) Pine siskin (56)
Rock pigeon (255) Pygmy nuthatch (177) American goldfinch (85)
Eurasian‐collared dove (112) Brown creeper (7) Evening grosbeak (25)
Mourning dove (18) Winter wren (3) House sparrow (285)
Western screech owl (1)

by Larry Weeks

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