The 73rd consecutive Elizabethton Christmas Bird Count was held on Saturday, Dec. 19, with 24 observers in six parties plus one feeder watcher. A total of 73 species was tallied, with an additional four count-week species. This is slightly above the recent 30-year average of 71.7 species. The all-time high for this CBC was 80 species in 2012.
Long-time count compiler Rick Knight noted that some of the highlights from this year’s Elizabethton CBC included: five Blue-winged Teal, which represented only the fourth time this duck has been found for this count, as well as Northern Shoveler and Greater Scaup.
Other highlights included Bald Eagle, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Pipit and Palm Warbler.
The 72 Chipping Sparrows found during the CBC represented the most individuals of this species ever tallied for this count.
A few winter finches have also arrived in the area, based on the Purple Finch and Pine Siskins detected during the CBC.
The European Starling was the most common bird with a total of 1,707 individual starlings represented on the count. Other common birds included American Crow (987), Canada Goose (511) and American Robin (450).
The total for the 2015 Elizabethton CBC follows:
Canada Goose, 511; Mallard, 129; Blue-winged Teal, 5; Northern Shoveler, 12; Greater Scaup, 2; Lesser Scaup, 1; Bufflehead, 172; and Hooded Merganser, 10.
Wild Turkey, 30; Pied-billed Grebe, 15; Horned Grebe, 10; and Great Blue Heron, 13.
Black Vulture, 16; Turkey Vulture, 26; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 2; Cooper’s Hawk, 5; Bald Eagle, 5; Red-shouldered Hawk, 2; Red-tailed Hawk, 22; and American Kestrel, 18.
American Coot, 7; Killdeer, 5; Ring-billed Gull, 65; Rock Pigeon, 349; Eurasian Collared Dove, 7; and Mourning Dove, 114.
Eastern Screech-Owl, 7; Great Horned Owl, 4; Barred Owl, 1; Belted Kingfisher, 13; Red-bellied Woodpecker, 27; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 7; Downy Woodpecker, 23; Hairy Woodpecker, 3; Northern Flicker, 11; and Pileated Woodpecker, 10.
Eastern Phoebe, 7; Blue Jay, 76; American Crow, 987; Common Raven, 6; Carolina Chickadee, 111; and Tufted Titmouse, 110.
Red-breasted Nuthatch, 1; White-breasted Nuthatch, 31; Brown Creeper, 2; Winter Wren, 3; and Carolina Wren, 60.
Golden-crowned Kinglet, 32; Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 2; Eastern Bluebird, 114; Hermit Thrush, 5; American Robin, 450; and Northern Mockingbird, 27.
European Starling, 1,707; American Pipit, 40; Cedar Waxwing, 116; Palm Warbler, 3; and Yellow-rumped Warbler, 106.
Eastern Towhee, 12; Chipping Sparrow, 72; Field Sparrow, 31; Fox Sparrow, 3; Song Sparrow, 104; Swamp Sparrow, 104; White-throated Sparrow, 78; and Dark-eyed Junco, 74.
Northern Cardinal, 123; Eastern Meadowlark, 4; House Finch, 51; Purple Finch, 1; Pine Siskin, 25; American Goldfinch, 101; and House Sparrow, 41.
It was strange to walk outside in short sleeves this past Christmas. This weird winter weather has also led to some unexpected bird sightings. I saw my first-ever winter warbler (other than Yellow-rumped Warbler) at home ton Dec. 30. The warbler was a male Common Yellowthroat lurking in the cattails near the fish pond. Several years ago, I found a female Common Yellowthroat at Wilbur Lake on a Christmas Bird Count. In addition to the yellowthroat, I found a Swamp Sparrow in the cattails. I also had a flock of Dark-eyed Juncos (as opposed to just one bird) in the backyard that same day.
I am pleased to find that the winter birds are gradually arriving. Now that it looks like more typical winter temperatures might prevail for awhile, I expect activity to increase at my feeders.
To learn more about birds and other topics from the natural world, friend Stevens on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ahoodedwarbler. He is always posting about local birds, wildlife, flowers, insects and much more. If you have a question, wish to make a comment or share a sighting, email firstname.lastname@example.org.