Category Archives: Summer Bird Counts

Elizabethton summer bird count sets new record

The Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter of Tennessee Ornithological Society, also known as the Elizabethton Bird Club, conducts two summer surveys of area bird life. Last week, the results of the Unicoi County Summer Bird Count were explored. This week, the focus is on the Carter County Summer Bird Count, which set a new record. The 24th Carter County Summer Bird Count was held Saturday, June 10, under favorable weather conditions with twenty observers in six parties. A record high of 123 species were tallied, besting the previous high of 121 species set in 2013. The average over the previous 23 years was 112 species, ranging from a low of 105 to as many as 121.

Long-time count compiler Rick Knight said highlights of the count included seven Ruffed Grouse, including chicks, as well as such species as Yellow-crowned Night-heron, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk and 21 species of warblers.

The American Robin, with 392 individuals counted, barely edged out European Starling, with 389 individuals counted, for most numerous bird on this year’s summer count.

Making the Summer Bird Count for the first time was Red-headed Woodpecker, represented by a pair of birds nesting at Watauga Point Recreation Area on Watauga Lake near Hampton. Other notable songbirds found included Vesper Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, Red Crossbill and Pine Siskin. I counted birds with Chris Soto, Mary Anna Wheat, and Brookie and Jean Potter at such locations as Wilbur Lake, Holston Mountain and Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.

IMG_4530

Photo by Bryan Stevens • Birds like this Red-bellied Woodpecker helped set a new record for most species on one of the Elizabethton Summer Bird Counts.

The count’s total follows:
Canada Goose, 258; Wood Duck, 7; Mallard, 125; Ruffed Grouse, 7; Wild Turkey, 21; and Double-crested Cormorant, 1.
Great Blue Heron, 10; Green Heron, 1; Yellow-crowned Night-heron, 1; Black Vulture, 7; and Turkey Vulture, 28.
Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1; Cooper’s Hawk, 7; Bald Eagle, 2; Red-shouldered Hawk, 3; Broad-winged Hawk, 7; and Red-tailed Hawk, 5.
Killdeer, 2; Rock Pigeon, 37; Eurasian Collared Dove, 1; Mourning Dove, 137; Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 4; Eastern Screech-owl, 2; Great Horned Owl, 2; Barred Owl, 2; Common Nighthawk, 1; Chuck-will’s-widow, 5; and Whip-poor-will, 8.
Chimney Swift, 80; Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 17; Belted Kingfisher, 3; Red-headed Woodpecker, 2; Red-bellied Woodpecker, 16; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 2; Downy Woodpecker, 12; Hairy Woodpecker, 4; Northern Flicker, 18; and Pileated Woodpecker, 24.
American Kestrel, 1; Eastern Wood-Pewee, 17; Eastern Phoebe, 71; Acadian Flycatcher, 20; Alder Flycatcher, 2; Willow Flycatcher, 1; Least Flycatcher, 5; Great Crested Flycatcher, 5; and Eastern Kingbird, 17.
White-eyed Vireo, 2; Yellow-throated Vireo, 2; Warbling Vireo, 1; Blue-headed Vireo, 41; Red-eyed Vireo, 126; Blue Jay, 69; American Crow, 227; and Common Raven, 7.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 45; Purple Martin, 53; Tree Swallow, 149; Barn Swallow, 129; and Cliff Swallow, 113.
Carolina Chickadee, 54; Tufted Titmouse, 71; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 12; White-breasted Nuthatch, 16; Brown Creeper, 2; House Wren, 79; Carolina Wren, 67; Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 28; and Golden-crowned Kinglet, 12.
Eastern Bluebird, 88; Veery, 32; Hermit Thrush, 4; Wood Thrush, 43; American Robin, 392; Gray Catbird, 38; Brown Thrasher, 21; Northern Mockingbird, 42; European Starling, 389; and Cedar Waxwing, 64.
Ovenbird, 70; Worm-eating Warbler, 9; Louisiana Waterthrush, 9; Golden-winged Warbler, 13; Black-and-white Warbler, 26; Swainson’s Warbler, 2; Common Yellowthroat, 28; Hooded Warbler, 95; American Redstart, 6; Northern Parula, 25; Magnolia Warbler, 3; Blackburnian Warbler, 7; Yellow Warbler, 13; Chestnut-sided Warbler, 36; Black-throated Blue Warbler, 38; Pine Warbler, 3; Yellow-rumped Warbler, 1; Yellow-throated Warbler, 14; Black-throated Green Warbler, 26; Canada Warbler, 16; and Yellow-breasted Chat.
Eastern Towhee, 121; Chipping Sparrow, 78; Field Sparrow, 50; Vesper Sparrow, 1; Song Sparrow, 178; Dark-eyed Junco, 69; Scarlet Tanager, 31; Northern Cardinal, 94; Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 12; Blue Grosbeak, 2; and Indigo Bunting, 169.
Red-winged Blackbird, 77; Eastern Meadowlark, 11; Common Grackle, 84; Brown-headed Cowbird, 22; Orchard Oriole, 10; and Baltimore Oriole, 2.
House Finch, 26; Red Crossbill, 1; Pine Siskin, 5; American Goldfinch, 134; and House Sparrow, 27.

•••••

I had a recent phone call with Erwin resident Don Dutton, who wanted to know why hummingbirds have been scarce around his home this summer. I’ve noticed fewer hummers at my own home this summer, but it’s natural for numbers to fluctuate from year to year. I anticipate that numbers will rise as hummingbirds begin migrating south again in the coming weeks. At that time, the adult hummers will be joined by the young birds from this season’s successful nesting attempts.

Ruby-throated-WILLOWS

Photo by Bryan Stevens • Numbers of Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the region tend to fluctuate each year, but people should see a spike in their numbers as the hummingbirds end summer nesting and start migrating south again.

Don shared that when he lived out west, he often visited Mount Charleston near Las Vegas, Nevada, where he saw swarms of hummingbirds comprised of various different species. In the eastern United States, the only nesting species is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

If you have felt slighted by hummers so far this year, keep a sugar water feeder available to attract them on their way south later this summer and into the fall. To share a sighting, make a comment, or ask a question, send email to ahoodedwarbler@aol.com.

 

 

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County’s Summer Bird Count finds 104 species

Members and friends of the Lee & Lois Herndon Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society enjoyed a busy June, conducting its two annual summer bird counts last month. To the satisfaction of everyone involved, these counts encountered normal temperature after a spring count this past May that actually saw some snowfall when it was held on May 6.

IMG_4140

Photo by Bryan Stevens • Nesting Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers can be found at higher elevations in Unicoi County. This woodpecker is usually considered a winter bird in the region, but a few nest in the mountains.

According to long-time compiler Rick Knight, the chapter holds these summer counts in the counties of Carter and Unicoi to provide a set of baseline data on the diversity and numbers of breeding birds in these two local counties. This supplements other summertime data collection projects, such as the long-running Breeding Bird Survey (one route in Carter County) and the Nightjar Survey (three local routes).

The Carter County Summer Bird Count was initiated shortly after the conclusion of the Tennessee Breeding Bird Atlas project. The Unicoi County Summer Bird Count’s origins are more recent, with this survey making its debut in June of 2014. The fourth consecutive Unicoi County Summer Count was held June 17 with 21 observers in five parties looking for birds on Unaka Mountain, as well as such locations as Erwin, Limestone Cove and Flag Pond. Morning weather was favorable, but scattered rain in the afternoon hindered some efforts. A total of 104 species were tallied, down slightly from the three-year average of 111 species. Highlights included a Bald Eagle, Merlin and six Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, including a nest with young. A total of 20 species of warblers were tallied, including Swainson’s Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler and Prairie Warbler. Other notable birds include Hermit Thrush and Blue Grosbeak.

I took part on the count, looking for birds in the Limestone Cove area of the county with Brookie and Jean Potter, Charles Moore, and David and Connie Irick. Beyond bird, we saw other wildlife, including skunks, white-tailed deer, rabbits, groundhogs and various butterflies.

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Photo by Bryan Stevens • A young Red-winged Blackbird begs food from its attentive mother.

A highlight of our count took place near the Appalachian Trail along Highway 107 at Iron Mountain Gap where we found a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers delivering food to young inside a nesting cavity in a tree easily viewed from the roadside. In addition, a singing Chestnut-sided Warbler put on quite a show for a group of admiring birders enchanted with this bird’s dazzling plumage and energetic antics.

The total for the count follows:

Canada Goose, 73; Wood Duck, 22; Mallard; Wild Turkey, 19; Great Blue Heron, 13; and Green Heron, 3.
Black Vulture, 300; Turkey Vulture, 28; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 2; Cooper’s Hawk, 1; Bald Eagle, 1; Broad-winged Hawk, 7; Red-tailed Hawk, 4; American Kestrel, 2; and Merlin, 1.
Rock Pigeon, 67; Mourning Dove, 87; Great Horned Owl, 1; Barred Owl, 2; Chuck-will’s-Widow, 4; Whip-poor-will, 9; and Chimney Swift, 61.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 15; Belted Kingfisher, 4; Red-bellied Woodpecker, 13; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 6; Downy Woodpecker, 10; Hairy Woodpecker, 3; Northern Flicker, 7; and Pileated Woodpecker, 8.
Eastern Wood-Pewee, 7; Acadian Flycatcher, 24; Eastern Phoebe, 30; Great Crested Flycatcher, 3; and Eastern Kingbird, 14.
White-eyed Vireo, 4; Yellow-throated Vireo, 1; Blue-headed Vireo, 26; Red-eyed Vireo, 95; Blue Jay, 53; American Crow, 88; Fish Crow, 7; and Common Raven, 7.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 36; Purple Martin, 14; Tree Swallow, 70; Barn Swallow, 77; and Cliff Swallow, 149.
Carolina Chickadee, 51; Tufted Titmouse, 43; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 1; White-breasted Nuthatch, 18; Brown Creeper, 3; House Wren, 14; Carolina Wren, 42.

IMG_4172

Photo by Bryan Stevens • Most swallows, like this Barn Swallow, have fledged and will join their parents in migrating south in the coming weeks of late summer.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 5; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 7; Eastern Bluebird, 33; Veery, 25; Hermit Thrush, 4; Wood Thrush, 37; American Robin, 281; Gray Catbird, 31; Brown Thrasher, 12; Northern Mockingbird, 24; European Starling, 534; and Cedar Waxwing, 49.
Ovenbird, 29; Worm-eating Warbler, 2; Louisiana Waterthrush, 4; Black-and-white Warbler, 12; Swainson’s Warbler, 6; Common Yellowthroat, 2; Hooded Warbler, 37; American Redstart, 4; Northern Parula, 19; Magnolia Warbler, 3; Blackburnian Warbler, 2; Yellow Warbler, 1; Chestnut-sided Warbler, 15; Black-throated Blue Warbler, 29; Pine Warbler, 1; Yellow-throated Warbler, 3; Prairie Warbler, 3; Black-throated Green Warbler, 16; Canada Warbler, 9; and Yellow-breasted Chat, 2.
Eastern Towhee, 55; Chipping Sparrow, 49; Field Sparrow, 8; Song Sparrow, 120; Dark-eyed Junco, 37; Scarlet Tanager, 27; Northern Cardinal, 83; Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 4; Blue Grosbeak, 2; and Indigo Bunting, 82.
Red-winged Blackbird, 84; Common Grackle, 58; Eastern Meadowlark, 9; Brown-headed Cowbird, 29; and Orchard Oriole, 1.
House Finch, 33; American Goldfinch, 96; and House Sparrow, 17.

YoungCardinal

Photo by Bryan Stevens • Young birds, like this Northern Cardinal, point to a successful nesting season for most of the region’s birds.

Next week, I’ll post results from the Elizabethton Summer Bird Count.

 

••••••

To ask a question, make a comment or share a sighting, email ahoodedwarbler@aol.com or friend Stevens on Facebook.

Birding group conducts two summer bird counts in Northeast Tennessee

Robin-Hunter

Photos by Bryan Stevens                                      The American Robin, such as the individual pictured here, is a common breeding bird in the Northeast Tennessee counties of Carter and Unicoi.

The Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter of Tennessee Ornithological Society, also known as the Elizabethton Bird Club, recently held two summer bird counts.

Long-time compiler Rick Knight said that while additional counts in spring, fall and at Christmas provide data on seasonal bird populations, summer is the most important season for the majority of species.

“It’s breeding season,” he said. “It’s the only time their numbers can increase (not just shift locations).”

Knight noted that although Great Horned Owls have long since fledged and American Goldfinches likely have not begun nesting, most species are actively engaged in reproduction.

Thus, chapter members conduct a summer count to supplement other monitoring activities.  The Breeding Bird Atlas in Tennessee was run 1986-1991 and apparently won’t be repeated anytime soon. The Breeding Bird Survey is a localized survey that is very useful, but with biases (limited to roadsides, often misses some habitats).

“Not knocking either, just supplementing them,” Knight said of the motivation for the club’s conducting of two summer bird counts.

The  22nd annual Carter County summer count was held Saturday, June 13, with 16 observers in five parties. Participants found 116 species. This is slightly above the average of 113 species over the previous 21 years. Count totals during this span have ranged from 105 to 121 species.

Highlights included a female Common Merganser, which has been lingering since spring. It’s also the first June record for this duck in Northeast Tennessee.

Yellow-crowneds

Yellow-crowned Night-Herons nest in small numbers along the Watauga River in Carter County.

Other highlights include a non-breeding Common Loon and four Double-crested Cormorants near a new nesting site at Watauga Lake, as well as three Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, two Eurasian Collared-Doves and a single Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Other outstanding finds included three Alder Flycatchers, two Least Flycatchers, a Warbling Vireo and 15 Common Ravens.

Cliff Swallow, with 317 individuals found, was the most numerous swallow and is rapidly increasing its summer nesting population.

Other noteworthy finds, according to Knight, include 10 Red-breasted Nuthatches, three Brown Creepers, nine Winter Wrens, seven Golden-crowned Kinglets, four Hermit Thrushes and 21 species of warbler, as well as two Vesper Sparrows.

The total for the Carter County Summer Bird Count follows:

Canada Goose, 268; Wood Duck, 5; Mallard, 101; Common Merganser, 1; Wild Turkey, 9; Common Loon, 1; Double-crested Cormorant, 4; Great Blue Heron, 28; Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, 3; and Green Heron, 6.

Black Vulture, 2; Turkey Vulture, 31; Cooper’s Hawk, 2; Broad-winged Hawk, 6; Red-tailed Hawk, 6; American Kestrel, 1; Killdeer, 9; Rock Pigeon, 53; Eurasian Collared-Dove, 2; and Mourning Dove, 98.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 1; Eastern Screech-Owl, 1; Great Horned Owl, 1; Barred Owl, 3; Common Nighthawk, 3; Chuck-will’s-widow, 1; Whip-poor-will, 14.

Kingbird-Cove

An Eastern Kingbird perches on a fence post.

Chimney Swift, 85; Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 27; Belted Kingfisher, 10; Red-bellied Woodpecker, 18; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 9; Hairy Woodpecker, 4; Northern Flicker, 8; and Pileated Woodpecker, 14.

Eastern Wood-pewee, 12; Acadian Flycatcher, 26; Alder Flycatcher, 3; Least Flycatcher, 2; Eastern Phoebe, 26; Great Crested Flycatcher, 1; and Eastern Kingbird, 15.

White-eyed Vireo, 3; Yellow-throated Vireo, 2; Blue-headed Vireo, 36; Warbling Vireo, 1; and Red-eyed Vireo, 137.

Blue Jay, 56; American Crow, 153; Common Raven, 15; Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 29; Purple Martin, 20; Tree Swallow, 58; Barn Swallow, 46; and Cliff Swallow, 317.

Bleubird-One

Eastern Bluebird peeks into the interior of a bird box.

Carolina Chickadee, 49; Tufted Titmouse, 52; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 10; White-breasted Nuthatch, 16; Brown Creeper, 3; House Wren, 36; Winter Wren, 9; and Carolina Wren, 66.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 34; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 7; Eastern Bluebird, 24; Veery, 33; Hermit Thrush, 4; Wood Thrush, 40; American Robin, 350; Gray Catbird, 34; Northern Mockingbird, 30; Brown Thrasher, 13; European Starling, 180; and Cedar Waxwing, 57.

Ovenbird, 49; Worm-eating Warbler, 6; Louisiana Waterthrush, 10; Golden-winged Warbler, 4; Black-and-white Warbler, 23; Swainson’s Warbler, 3; Kentucky Warbler, 1; Common Yellowthroat, 27; Hooded Warbler, 84; American Redstart, 9; Northern Parula, 14; Magnolia Warbler, 2; Blackburnian Warbler, 1; Yellow Warbler, 7; Chestnut-sided Warbler, 29; Black-throated Blue Warbler, 43; Pine Warbler, 5; Yellow-throated Warbler, 8; Black-throated Green Warbler, 31; Canada Warbler, 27; and Yellow-breasted Chat, 5.

Indigo-Count

Indigo Buntings were common birds on both of the summer counts.

Eastern Towhee, 99; Chipping Sparrow, 53; Field Sparrow, 38; Vesper Sparrow, 2; Song Sparrow, 159; Dark-eyed Junco, 47; Scarlet Tanager, 26; Northern Cardinal, 89; Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 11; and Indigo Bunting, 183.

Red-winged Blackbird, 59; Eastern Meadowlark, 18; Common Grackle, 149; Brown-headed Cowbird, 76; Orchard Oriole, 3; and Baltimore Oriole, 1.

House Finch, 24; American Goldfinch, 72; and House Sparrow, 49.

•••••••

Last year the chapter began a new summer count to gather data on an under-birded area. The second annual Unicoi County summer count was held Saturday, June 6, with 15 observers in five parties. Participants found 110 species, down one from last year’s total of 111.

Hummer-BerryFeeder

Ruby-throated Hummingbird visits a feeder.

Highlights included a lingering Ring-necked Duck, two Ruffed Ruffed Grouse, a Bald Eagle, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and 10 Least Flycatchers. Other noteworthy birds included two Warbling Vireos, three Common Ravens, six Red-breasted Nuthatches, three Winter Wrens, five Golden-crowned Kinglets, and two Hermit Thrushes.

In additional, a total of 21 species of warblers were found, including two Golden-winged Warblers, three Swainson’s Warbler and eight Magnolia Warblers. Other highlights included 15 Red Crossbills and a single Pine Siskin.

The total for the Unicoi County Summer Bird Count follows:

Canada Goose, 66; Wood Duck, 37; Mallard, 48; Ring-necked Duck, 1; Ruffed Grouse, 2; Wild Turkey, 33; Great Blue Heron, 4; and Green Heron, 3.

Black Vulture, 4; Turkey Vulture, 24; Bald Eagle, 1; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1; Broad-winged Hawk, 7; Red-tailed Hawk, 7; and American Kestrel, 2.

Catbird-Tail

A Gray Catbird retreats into a tangle of vegetation.

Killdeer, 11; Rock Pigeon, 78; Mourning Dove, 105; Eastern Screech Owl, 5; Great Horned Owl, 1; and Barred Owl, 3.

Chuck-will’s-widow, 4; Whip-poor-will, 5; Chimney Swift, 46; Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 11; Belted Kingfisher, 3; Red-bellied Woodpecker, 11; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 20; Hairy Woodpecker, 5; Northern Flicker, 7; and Pileated Woodpecker, 16.

Eastern Wood-pewee, 16; Acadian Flycatcher, 38, Least Flycatcher, 10; Eastern Phoebe, 40; Great Crested Flycatcher, 1; and Eastern Kingbird, 15.

Crow-Waxwings

Red-winged Blackbirds mob an American Crow during the Unicoi Summer Bird Count.

Yellow-throated Vireo, 3; Blue-headed Vireo, 19; Warbling Vireo, 2; and Red-eyed Vireo, 153.

Blue Jay, 55; American Crow, 141; Common Raven, 3; Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 27; Purple Martin, 15; Tree Swallow, 71; Barn Swallow, 77; and Cliff Swallow, 32.

Carolina Chickadee, 55; Tufted Titmouse, 68, Red-breasted Nuthatch, 6; White-breasted Nuthatch, 12; Carolina Wren, 43; House Wren, 29; and Winter Wren, 3.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 28; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 5; Eastern Bluebird, 57; Veery, 26; Hermit Thrush, 2; Wood Thrush, 37; American Robin, 296;  Gray Catbird, 27; Northern Mockingbird, 16; Brown Thrasher, 13; European Starling, 371; and Cedar Waxwing, 66.

Ovenbird, 67; Worm-eating Warbler, 9; Louisiana Waterthrush, 7; Golden-winged Warbler, 2; Black-and-white Warbler, 19; Swainson’s Warbler, 3; Kentucky Warbler, 2; Common Yellowthroat, 3; Hooded Warbler, 74; American Redstart, 10; Northern Parula, 15; Magnolia Warbler, 8; Blackburnian Warbler, 3; Yellow Warbler, 3; Chestnut-sided Warbler, 19; Black-throated Blue Warbler, 21; Yellow-throated Warbler, 8; Prairie Warbler, 5; Black-throated Green Warbler, 37; Canada Warbler, 17; and Yellow-breasted Chat, 6.

DaddyCardinal

Northern Cardinal visits a feeder for sunflower seeds.

Eastern Towhee, 85; Chipping Sparrow, 39; Field Sparrow, 7; Song Sparrow, 152; Dark-eyed Junco, 39; Scarlet Tanager, 31; Northern Cardinal, 78; Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 5; and Indigo Bunting, 152.

Red-winged Blackbird, 47; Eastern Meadowlark, 9; Common Grackle, 92; Brown-headed Cowbird, 20; Orchard Oriole, 4; and Baltimore Oriole, 1.

House Finch, 17; Red Crossbill, 15; Pine Siskin, 1; American Goldfinch, 96; and House Sparrow, 27.

••••••

Participants (on one or both counts) included Jim Anderson, Rob Armistead, Rob Biller, Monica Black, Rick Blanton, Jay and Deb Campbell, Ron Carrico, Glen Eller, Harry Lee Farthing, Jacki Hinshaw, Rick Knight, Richard Lewis, Joe McGuiness, Tom and Cathy McNeil, Charles Moore, Brookie and Jean Potter, Peter Range, Bryan Stevens, Peggy Stevens, Kim Stroud and Mary Anna Wheat.  In addition, an incidental observation was received from Adam Campbell.

Goldfinch-Female

An American Goldfinch perched near a feeder.

Annual Carter County Summer Bird Count tallies 116 species

 

Members of the Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter of Tennessee Ornithological Society, known less formally as the Elizabethton Bird Club, conducted the 21st annual Carter County Summer Bird Count on Saturday, June 7.

Photo by Bryan Stevens  A total of 231 Song Sparrows, such as the one pictured here, were found during the recent Summer Bird Count.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
A total of 231 Song Sparrows, such as the one pictured here, were found during the recent Summer Bird Count.

The 19 observers in six parties logged 58 party hours, plus 5.5 nocturnal party hours. The total of 116 species tallied was slightly above the average of 112. The range for this count has varied between 105 and 121 species.

 Observers included Jim Anderson, Rob Armistead, Kevin Brooks, J.G. and Deb Campbell, Harry Lee Farthing, Don Holt, Christy Kendall, Rick Knight, Roy Knispel, Joe McGuiness, Tom McNeil, Cathy Myers, Kathy Noblet, Chris Soto, Bryan Stevens, Kim Stroud, Mary Anna Wheat and John Whinery.

The species list follows:

Canada Goose, 379; Wood Duck, 11; Mallard, 74; Ruffed Grouse,  6; Wild Turkey,  9; Double-crested Cormorant, 1; Great Blue Heron, 25; and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, 3.

Black Vulture, 4; Turkey Vulture,  60; Sharp-shinned Hawk,  2; Cooper’s Hawk,  1; Broad-winged Hawk, 4; Red-tailed Hawk, 4; and American Kestrel,  6.

Killdeer,  6; American Woodcock, 1; Rock Pigeon, 67; Mourning Dove, 111; and Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 1.

Eastern Screech-Owl, 3; Barred Owl, 3; Common Nighthawk, 1; Chuck-will’s-widow, 2; and Eastern Whip-poor-will, 13.

Chimney Swift,  96; Ruby-throated Hummingbird,  30; Belted Kingfisher,  7; Red-bellied Woodpecker, 15; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 1; Downy Woodpecker,  21; Hairy Woodpecker, 6; Northern Flicker, 22; and Pileated Woodpecker, 11.

Photo by Bryan Stevens The Ruby-throated Hummingbird was represented by a total of 30 individuals on the recent Summer Bird Count.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird was represented by a total of 30 individuals on the recent Summer Bird Count.

Eastern Wood-Pewee, 26; Acadian Flycatcher, 44; Alder Flycatcher, 4; Least Flycatcher, 9; Eastern Phoebe, 38; Great Crested Flycatcher, 4; and Eastern Kingbird, 17.

White-eyed Vireo, 10; Yellow-throated Vireo, 2; Blue-headed Vireo, 54; Red-eyed Vireo, 166; Blue Jay, 91; American Crow, 130; and Common Raven, 6.

Purple Martin, 21; Tree Swallow, 152; Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 36; Cliff Swallow, 295; and Barn Swallow, 159.

Carolina Chickadee, 71; Tufted Titmouse, 72; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 9; White-breasted Nuthatch, 15; Brown Creeper, 1; Carolina Wren, 86; House Wren, 54; and Winter Wren, 8.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 41; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 10; Eastern Bluebird, 48; Veery, 31; Hermit Thrush, 2; Wood Thrush,  56; American Robin,  356; Gray Catbird,  44; N. Mockingbird,  59; Brown Thrasher, 16; European Starling,  607; and Cedar Waxwing,  94.

Ovenbird, 70; Worm-eating Warbler, 14; Louisiana Waterthrush, 4; Golden-winged Warbler, 3; Black-and-white Warbler,  38; Swainson’s Warbler, 3; Kentucky Warbler, 1; Common Yellowthroat,  27; Hooded Warbler, 88; American Redstart, 9; Northern Parula,  15; Magnolia Warbler, 2; Blackburnian Warbler,  14; Yellow Warbler, 5; Chestnut-sided Warbler, 27; Black-throated Blue Warbler,  35; Pine Warbler, 4; Yellow-rumped Warbler, 1; Yellow-throated Warbler, 13; Black-throated Green Warbler, 34; Canada Warbler, 24; and Yellow-breasted Chat, 10.

Eastern Towhee, 120; Chipping Sparrow, 100; Field Sparrow,  37; Vesper Sparrow,  1; Song Sparrow, 231; Dark-eyed Junco, 89; Scarlet Tanager, 27; Northern Cardinal,  157; Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 17; Blue Grosbeak, 2; and Indigo Bunting, 181.

Red-winged Blackbird, 69; Eastern Meadowlark, 25; Common Grackle,  95; Brown-headed Cowbird, 39; Orchard Oriole, 7; Baltimore Oriole, 4; House Finch,  28; Red Crossbill, 1; American Goldfinch, 166; and House Sparrow, 128.

Photo by Bryan Stevens Although waterfowl can be difficult to find in Carter County during the summer months, a total of 11 Wood Ducks were tallied for the Summer Bird Count.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
Although waterfowl can be difficult to find in Carter County during the summer months, a total of 11 Wood Ducks were tallied for the Summer Bird Count.

All 116 species found on the count are known or suspected to nest in Carter County, except for the Double-crested Cormorant.

•••••

Hampton resident Barbara Lake emailed me to share some photos of a clutch of eggs in one of her bluebird boxes.

Photo Courtesy of Barbara Lake A clutch of five Eastern Bluebird eggs in a box at the home of Barbara and Jerry Lake in Hampton.

Photo Courtesy of Barbara Lake
A clutch of five Eastern Bluebird eggs in a box at the home of Barbara and Jerry Lake in Hampton.

She actually has two pairs of Eastern Bluebirds nesting in boxes at her home. She has named the bird Blossom and Max, as well as Aliy and Allen. The latter are named for Iditarod and Yukon Quest musher friends.

“I wrote to Aliy and told her I named a bluebird after her, and she is happy about it.  So now I have to keep her up to date about what’s going on.”

Some of Barbara’s bluebird boxes are equipped with television cameras, which allows her to monitor activity on a television screen in the comfort of her home.

•••••

Now that it is July, birding sometimes becomes more difficult because of the intense heat, high humidity and other factors. There are still interesting bird observations to make. Many birds are still taking care of young, either in or out of the nest. If you’d like to share an observation, make a comment or ask a question, email me at ahoodedwarbler@aol.com or post a comment here.

 

First-ever Unicoi County Summer Bird Count tallies 111 species

Members of the Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter of Tennessee Ornithological Society conducted the first-ever Unicoi County Summer Bird Count on Saturday, June 14.

Photo by Bryan Stevens A young Eastern Bluebird slowly gains independence after leaving the nest.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
A young Eastern Bluebird slowly gains independence after leaving the nest.

Rick Knight, a long-time compiler for the chapter’s seasonal bird counts, organized and launched the count as a means to collect valuable information about the local distribution of birds in an often overlooked county in the region.

Nineteen observers in five parties logged 53 party hours, plus three nocturnal party hours, searching for birds from Flag Pond to Limestone Cove within Unicoi County.

 A total of 111 species were tallied during the count by the following observers: Jim Anderson, Rob Armistead, Harry Lee Farthing, Don Holt, Rick Knight, Roy Knispel, Richard Lewis, Vern Maddux, Joe McGuiness, Tom McNeil, Charles Moore, Cathy Myers, Kathy Noblet, Brookie and Jean Potter, Bryan Stevens, Kim Stroud, Gary Wallace and John Whinery.

 Species found during the count included:

Canada Goose, 76; Wood Duck, 17; Mallard, 31; Ruffed Grouse,1; Wild Turkey, 29; Great Blue Heron, 12; and Green Heron, 6.

Black Vulture, 3; Turkey Vulture, 28; Bald Eagle, 3 ; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1; Cooper’s Hawk, 1; Red-shouldered Hawk, 1; Broad-winged Hawk, 3; Red-tailed Hawk, 5; American Kestrel, 2; and Peregrine Falcon, 3.

Killdeer,17; Rock Pigeon,  75; Mourning Dove, 77; Yellow-billed Cuckoo,  3; Eastern Screech-Owl,  2; Great Horned Owl, 1; Chuck-will’s-widow, 6; Eastern Whip-poor-will,  3; Chimney Swift,  44; Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 17; and Belted Kingfisher,  4.

Photo Courtesy of Jean Potter The Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers found during the count indicate that this species is nesting at high-elevation locations in Unicoi County.

Photo Courtesy of Jean Potter
The Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers found during the count indicate that this species is nesting at high-elevation locations in Unicoi County.

Red-bellied Woodpecker,  20; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  3; Downy Woodpecker  15; Hairy Woodpecker  5; Northern Flicker,  12; Pileated Woodpecker, 16;  Eastern Wood-Pewee  8; Acadian Flycatcher  29; Least Flycatcher  5; Eastern Phoebe,  44; Great Crested Flycatcher,  2; and Eastern Kingbird,  13.

White-eyed Vireo,  1; Yellow-throated Vireo,  1; Blue-headed Vireo,  29; Warbling Vireo,  1; Red-eyed Vireo,  157; Blue Jay, 59; American Crow, 139; Common Raven, 8; Purple Martin, 36; Tree Swallow, 94; Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 68; Cliff Swallow, 64; and Barn Swallow, 139.

Carolina Chickadee,  63; Tufted Titmouse,  47; Red-breasted Nuthatch,  3; White-breasted Nuthatch,  20; Brown Creeper, 1; Carolina Wren, 80; House Wren,  31; Winter Wren,  2; and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 27.

Eastern Bluebird, 46; Veery, 35; Wood Thrush, 37; American Robin, 435; Gray Catbird, 37; Northern Mockingbird, 37; Brown Thrasher, 14; European Starling, 464; and Cedar Waxwing,  71.

Ovenbird, 56; Worm-eating Warbler, 9; Louisiana Waterthrush, 5; Golden-winged Warbler, 1; Black-and-white Warbler, 19; Swainson’s Warbler, 6; Kentucky Warbler, 1; Common Yellowthroat,  2; Hooded Warbler, 78; American Redstart,  8; Northern Parula, 13; Magnolia Warbler, 1; Blackburnian Warbler, 2; Yellow Warbler, 1; Chestnut-sided Warbler,  23; Black-throated Blue Warbler, 20; Yellow-throated Warbler, 4; Prairie Warbler, 7; Black-throated Green Warbler,  30; Canada Warbler, 9; and Yellow-breasted Chat, 5.

Photo by Bryan Stevens A young Chipping Sparrow perches on a barbed wire fence at the Bell Cemetery in Limestone Cove.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
A young Chipping Sparrow perches on a barbed wire fence at the Bell Cemetery in Limestone Cove.

Eastern Towhee,  70; Chipping Sparrow,  60; Field Sparrow,  12; Song Sparrow,  214; Dark-eyed Junco,  28; Scarlet Tanager,  20; Northern Cardinal,  138; Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 2; Blue Grosbeak, 1; and Indigo Bunting, 197.

Red-winged Blackbird,  101; Eastern Meadowlark,  13; Common Grackle,  94; Brown-headed Cowbird,  34; Orchard Oriole,  1; Baltimore Oriole,  1; House Finch,  8; American Goldfinch,  84; and House Sparrow,  64.

Knight noted that all 111 species found during the count are known or suspected to nest in Unicoi County. For instance, the three Bald Eagles found on the count included an adult bird and two recently fledged young. Eagles have been documented nesting near the Devil’s Looking Glass above the Nolichucky River for the past couple of years.

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During the count, I stayed close to home with the territory of Limestone Cove and the portion of Sciota Road located within Unicoi County. Gary Wallace and John Whinery joined me for several hours of productive birding.

We found some birds I would never have expected to find so close to home, including singing Prairie Warblers and a noisy, scolding Yellow-breasted Chat. On Bean Creek Road near the state line with North Carolina, we also found a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker while walking a section of the Appalachian Trail. This was my first summer sighting of what is normally a winter bird in the region. In recent years, however, a few sapsuckers have started nesting in some of the local mountains.

We also missed some target birds. We checked out every pond we could view in our territory and failed to find a Green Heron.

Summer is also an extremely busy time of year for birds as they go about the business of bringing up a new generation of birds. Most birds have completed spring migration and have settled into locations they will call home for the next few months. During the recent Summer Bird Count in Unicoi County, we saw numerous young birds, ranging from Chipping Sparrows and Eastern Bluebirds to American Robins and Barn Swallows.

Photo by Bryan Stevens A young Barn Swallow perched on a utility line at the Bell Cemetery in Limestone Cove awaits a delivery of food from its parents.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
A young Barn Swallow perched on a utility line at the Bell Cemetery in Limestone Cove awaits a delivery of food from its parents.

•••••

To ask a question, make a comment or share an observation, email me at ahoodedwarbler@aol.com or leave a remark here at “Our Fine Feathered Friends.”

 

Summer counts reflect busy time of year for local birds

Photo by Bryan Stevens  Many young birds, such as this Chipping Sparrow on a barbed wire fence in Limestone Cove in Unicoi County, look almost nothing like their parent.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
Above: Many young birds, such as this Chipping Sparrow on a barbed wire fence in Limestone Cove in Unicoi County, look almost nothing like their parent. Upper: Young Tree Swallows test perching skills.

I took part in the two Summer Bird Counts conducted recently by the Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter of Tennessee Ornithological Society in Carter County and Unicoi County on consecutive June Saturdays.

Photo by Bryan Stevens A young Eastern Phoebe perches patiently on a branch while waiting for a parent to bring food.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
A young Eastern Phoebe perches patiently on a branch while waiting for a parent to bring food.

One thing I enjoy about participating in Summer Bird Counts is the prevalence of young birds. It’s only to be expected since the summer season is the time when most local birds build nest, lay eggs and rear young. Some birds got started with the business of raising young back in April and are already attempting second nestings.

Photo by Bryan Stevens A male Northern Cardinal tends to a fledgling hidden near the ground in thick brush.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
A male Northern Cardinal tends to a fledgling hidden near the ground in thick brush.

This year’s counts reported a variety of young birds among the totals, including numerous Wild Turkey poults, as well as species as diverse as Ruffed Grouse and Chipping Sparrow to Northern Cardinal and Barn Swallow.

I counted birds on Holston Mountain in Elizabethton with Chris Soto and Robert Armistead during the Carter County survey. For the Unicoi County, I teamed with Gary Wallace and John Whinery to count birds in the community of Limestone Cove.

Photo by Bryan Stevens A Song Sparrow brings a beakful of caterpillars back to the nest to feed young.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
A Song Sparrow brings a beakful of caterpillars back to the nest to feed young.

The Carter County and Unicoi County Summer Bird Counts are the only surveys conducted during the summer in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Christmas Bird Counts are more common and include the long-running Bristol CBC and more recent surveys such as the Glade Spring CBC and Shady Valley CBC.

In next week’s post, I will explore the results of the counts in more detail. You might very well be surprised what birds can be found in the region. I know I always am!

Photo by Bryan Stevens A Barn Swallow makes a food delivery to young waiting somewhat patiently on a utility line.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
A Barn Swallow makes a food delivery to young waiting somewhat patiently on a utility line.