“Oregon” Junco, Year Five!

The Concord, Massachusetts Christmas Bird Count’s 56th is now closed. Please join us in late November for our first post. Count Day will be held on the New Year school holiday, January 2, 2017, and our potluck supper and countdown the following evening, January 3, in Sudbury Valley Trustees’ Wolbach farmhouse.

Checklists have been updated to conform to the revised taxonomic order. Please download them  from the Checklists & Forms pages.

January 10, 2016 The Concord circle, which encloses the whole or parts of eighteen towns, concluded its 56th count day midnight January 3, 2016. Lakes, ponds, rivers, and many streams were open for ducks and geese, a legacy of our record warm December, and our field teams enjoyed a reasonably mild and brightening January day. Our count, inaugurated in1960, began with fewer than 20 volunteers and now has a participation level that varies between 260 and 300.

EABL-Jay-DiaExtraordinary firsts were not the front page story this year, but rare birds were aplenty. The Concord sector recorded four lingering
NORTHERN SHOVELERS in Great Meadows, tying the previous record of 1998
and 30 AMERICAN PIPITS, the third count record and an astonishing new high tally by a factor of two. A veteran Wayland birder was waylaid by an AMERICAN WOODCOCK. We haven’t seen one of these guys in well over twenty years and only three in count history. Way to go Wayland!

The graying Lincoln field drafted the energy and youth of THE MASSACHUSETTS YOUNG BIRDERS CLUB into the effort and we thank them for persuading two Chipping Sparrows, one Eastern Towhee, and three Savannah Sparrows to show themselves, and an elusive Northern Saw-whet Owl to speak up and get counted, not to mention their overachieving totals for Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, and Blue Jay. Check out their Facebook page. We celebrate the next generation of birders and citizen scientists; without them more than a few of us will soon be leading our CBC field teams in walkers. There are other stories developing, including an astonishing yet to be confirmed report of not one, but FOUR, Common Loons on Flint’s Pond. Stay tuned! One Baltimore Oriole is overwintering as a feeder bird.

CBCers-2016-Jay-DiaLike every Concord CBC this one was notable for new high and low counts. Remarkably, several new highs topped the old records by one hundred percent. BALD EAGLE, which sashayed in twenty two years ago, doubled the 2009 record, achieving a new high of 11. COOPER’S HAWK, barely known in the early history of the count, suddenly took flight in 2000 and soared to a new high, too. BARRED OWL handily overtopped the old count by eleven for a new record of 28. (To be scientific, increased effort and more owl prowlers may account for this number.) RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, once unknown here, continued its transit skyward for a dramatic new high and COMMON RAVEN, an even newer kid on the block, more than doubled the previous record with 17 tallied. AMERICAN PIPIT, as earlier noted, also doubled its previous record, 15 to 30, and HOUSE SPARROW may be a turnaround story with a new tally of 3,157. Please monitor those bluebird nest boxes!

Nadirs include HERRING GULL, plummeting to an abysmal new low of nine from a high of 4,996 in 1996 and GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL has, for the very first time in count history, performed a total vanishing act. This is the final chapter in an old story about the demise of open waste dumping and capped landfills. RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH took a year off with four, and CAROLINA WREN had an unsurprising tumble to 90 from
last year’s 334 before their numbers were pruned by horrendous winter weather. However, these expressive and spirited little fellows are the very perfect model of resilience and we expect to see (and hear) them return to abundance in future years. AMERICAN TREE SPARROW at 340 took a leave of absence in some quarters and a circle-wide tally of half last year’s number. A spike of 2,168 in 1998 shows how dramatically variable this species can be.

As we mark the close of our count we salute not just the majesty of eagles, but full measure of that quality, too, in our brave little Oregon Junco who once again survived the peril of migration, eluding every hawk and house cat, and returning safely to his austere winter home on Ward Hill for the fifth consecutive year.
AMRO-Barbara-Peskin
I wish to acknowledge my gratitude to all our devoted field and feeder volunteers, compilers, and coordinators who worked tirelessly to make this count another success, and especially to Lisa Vernegaard, Executive Director of SUBURY VALLEY TRUSTEES, who graciously hosted us in SVT’s Wolbach farmhouse for the compilation and a delicious pot luck supper.

Please join us again on our next winter birding adventure!

A first draft of our results is listed below. The participation level has not been determined at this date and all counts and NAS flags may be revised. Totals so far are unreviewed and are being updated. Final results will be posted on our website.

Canada Goose  5,480 (unadjusted for multiple counting)
Mute Swan 44
Wood Duck  8
Gadwall  2
American Wigeon  7
American Black Duck  65
Mallard  1,354
Northern Shoveler  4
Northern Pintail  20
Green-winged Teal  3
Ring-necked Duck  (COUNT WEEK)
Bufflehead  5
Common Goldeneye  31
Hooded Merganser  138
Common Merganser  47
Ruddy Duck  43
duck sp.  4
Wild Turkey  171
Common Loon  4
Great Blue Heron  19
Turkey Vulture  COUNT WEEK
Bald Eagle  10 (RECORD HIGH COUNT by more than double.)
Northern Harrier  5
Sharp-shinned Hawk  11
Cooper’s Hawk  43 (RECORD HIGH COUNT)
accipiter sp.  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  180
Merlin (COUNT WEEK)
American Coot (37)
AMERICAN WOODCOCK  1 (UNUSUAL SPECIES – Three previous records.)
Ring-billed Gull  219
Herring Gull  9 (RECORD LOW COUNT)
Great Black-backed Gull    (COUNT WEEK, RECORD LOW OF 0.)
gull sp.  3
Rock Pigeon  684
Mourning Dove  1,257
Eastern Screech Owl  21
Great Horned Owl  36
Barred Owl  28 (RECORD HIGH COUNT – more effort?)
Northern Saw-whet Owl  5
Belted Kingfisher  8
Red-bellied Woodpecker  321 (RECORD HIGH COUNT)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Downy Woodpecker  751
Hairy Woodpecker  161
Northern Flicker  40
Pileated Woodpecker  25
Eastern Phoebe  1
Blue Jay  2,251
American Crow  727
Common Raven  17 (RECORD HIGH COUNT)
Horned Lark  55
Black-capped Chickadee  3,118
Tufted Titmouse  1,965
Red-breasted Nuthatch  4 (LOW COUNT)
White-breasted Nuthatch  1,108
Brown Creeper  37
Carolina Wren  90 (LOW COUNT MODERN ERA – 1 in 1960.)
Winter Wren  8
Marsh Wren  7
Golden-crowned Kinglet  57
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Eastern Bluebird  473
Hermit Thrush  9
American Robin  1,953
Gray Catbird  1
Northern Mockingbird  64
European Starling  2,551 (18,000 in 1981)
AMERICAN PIPIT  30 (RECORD HIGH COUNT)
Cedar Waxwing  615
Pine Warbler  COUNT WEEK
Eastern Towhee  2
American Tree Sparrow  340 (LOW COUNT, POSS. RECORD LC.)
Chipping Sparrow  2 (Regular on the count, now)
Field Sparrow  7
Savannah Sparrow  39
Fox Sparrow  7
Song Sparrow  390
Swamp Sparrow  23
White-throated Sparrow  399
White-crowned Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  3,048
“Oregon” Junco  1 (UNUSUAL SPECIES)
Northern Cardinal  934
Red-winged Blackbird  147
Rusty Blackbird  36
Brown-headed Cowbird  6
Baltimore Oriole  1 (UNUSUAL SPECIES) Perhaps no longer unusual.
House Finch  910
Purple Finch  2
Common Redpoll  2
Pine Siskin  4
American Goldfinch  1,692
House Sparrow  3,157 (RECORD HIGH COUNT unadj.)

TOTAL COUNTED  36,414 – Average
TOTAL SPECIES  87 – Average
COUNT WEEK SPECIES  5

Hoodies-Flints

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