Date: 12/27/17 11:06 am
From: John Cyrus <cyrus150...>
Subject: [mou-net] 2017 Carver County summary(very long)
As 2017 comes to an end, and I look back upon another year of birding in Carver County, this year has convinced of two things. The first being that my typical birding habits and walking routes yield relatively predictable species variety and numbers. Of course there will be unexpected outliers, but as the years go by I find I am less and less suprised by what I see. The second thing that I have been convinced of is not the happiest news. I strongly suspect that over the past 10 years there has been a decline in the number of breeding birds in the area. I have no proof of this except through my own experience, and I do wish I was as thorough 5-10 years ago in my observations as I have been the past several years instead of relying more on memory.
Since I already sent out a spring 2017 summary back in June I have copied it for anybody that may not have read it before or would like to again. The summary for the rest of the year is below that.

With another spring gone by here in Carver County, this year proved that a warm spring does not necessarily equal early migration. While the much warmer than normal February weather led to several personal earliest arrival dates for me (Tundra Swan, Greater White-fronted Goose, Wood Duck, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Hooded Merganser, Killdeer, Ring-billed Gull, Red-winged Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, and Common Grackle) with almost all arriving in February, a 2 week cold snap lasting into mid-March returned the pace of migration back to normal. Warmth lasting through much of April had me once again thinking birds would arrive early this year, but a strong cold front that moved through the area during the overnight hours of April 25-26 put an end to those expectations. Though even before those dates here, weather to the south of Minnesota in the southern central Midwest was not conducive to early migration. On April 26 there were many arriving birds that morning including personal earliest arriving Least Flycatcher and Ovenbird. But following the passage of that cold front, weather was not cooperative for a mass arrival of birds until May 9. From April 27 to May 8 there were expected arrivals, but birds were arriving in more of a trickle rather than a large wave. Beginning May 9 and lasting through May 27 species diversity was great. Bird numbers ranged generally from average to good. For the most part though, I don't consider numbers of most species this spring to be exceptional. There were a few outliers though that turned up in outstanding numbers including Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Magnolia Warbler, Palm Warbler, and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Vireo and Thrush numbers were average. Once again excluding White-throated Sparrow, I found migrant sparrow numbers to be generally poor even Fox. Apparently my preferred walking routes are not preferred by the sparrow. But I didn't spend any time behind the Rapids Lake visitor center during daylight hours and spent no time at the nature center at Carver Park, and that is where I used to have more luck with migrant sparrow species. I expected migration to drop off significantly after May 27 and did not spend any time out after that, but there were very likely some migrants that I missed through the end of May and possibly into early June. I hit my hiking wall by May 27 after about 110 miles of walking and just under 82 hours in the field during the month of May(94 miles excluding miles walked doubling back as I try to minimize that now). While there have been springs with better migrant totals in the past, I will gladly take the spring of 2017 over the two prior springs of 2015/16. Also of note this year was that despite the warm winter there were no overwintering Yellow-rumped Warbler or Golden-crowned Kinglet, but the Cedar seed crop last fall seemed much poorer than the previous year. Also, habitat managers at both Rapids Lake and Carver Park seem to have a dislike for Cedar trees, and a significant number of the trees were removed last year at Carver Park and this January at Rapids Lake as part of habitat restoration. While I understand the reasons for their removal in terms of the habitat that the managers want to create, it does remove a good amount of winter food crop for birds as well as cover and potential nesting habitat for certain species. In the long term it doesn't make a big difference, though I do question the frequency of burns that are prescribed. All in all it was a solid and enjoyable spring. The only unusual bird that I saw was a vagrant Common Raven at Carver Park in mid-April.

Spring warbler species seen each day followed by cumulative migrant warbler count with my 2008-2016 average spring count in parenthesis

April 16
April 19
April 21
April 22
April 23
April 26
April 28
April 29
May 3
May 4
May 6
May 7
May 8
May 9
May 10
May 11
May 12
May 13
May 14
May 16
May 17
May 19
May 20
May 21
May 22
May 23
May 24
May 27

Ovenbird 33 (30)
Northern Waterthrush 49 (28)
Golden-winged Warbler 16 (11)
Blue-winged Warbler 64 (48)
Golden-winged x Blue-winged Warbler 2
Black-and-white Warbler 39 (39)
Prothonotary Warbler 13 (8)
Tennessee Warbler 216 (194)
Orange-crowned Warbler 24 (12)
Nashville Warbler 88 (67)
Connecticut Warbler 7 (2)
Mourning Warbler 22 (6)
Common Yellowthroat 170
American Redstart 210
Cape May Warbler 3 (5)
Northern Parula 13 (9)
Magnolia Warbler 74 (31)
Bay-breasted Warbler 5 (5)
Blackburnian Warbler 15 (19)
Yellow Warbler 293
Chestnut-sided Warbler 30 (25)
Blackpoll Warbler 35 (48)
Palm Warbler 170 (67)
Pine Warbler 2 (2)
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1389 (427)
Black-throated Green Warbler 11 (12)
Canada Warbler 16 (10)
Wilson's Warbler 39 (30)

Warbler totals by location

Rapids Lake MVNWR 2078 of 27 species
Carver Park Reserve 839 of 25 species
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum 106 of 21 species
Northern Chaska city trail 16 of 8 species

Other species cumulative counts

Olive-sided Flycatcher 2
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 2
Alder Flycatcher 15
Willow Flycatcher 13
Least Flycatcher 94
Blue-headed Vireo 9
Philadelphia Vireo 7
Winter Wren 5
Golden-crowned Kinglet 59
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 323
Veery 3
Gray-cheeked Thrush 13
Swainson's Thrush 33
Hermit Thrush 30
Wood Thrush 8
White-crowned Sparrow 1
Harris's Sparrow 1
Lincoln's Sparrow 7

Looking back to this past summer, I struggle to come up with much notable. Like in the spring when I was able to consistently find good species variety, I was able to find a good variety of breeding species in the area when I was out this summer(though I don't spend nearly as much time out as I do during the spring or fall seasons). But I was not particularly impressed by the numbers of the breeding species that were around. It was a good summer for Dickcissel(cumulative count of 39 for the year), so that was nice. Little shorebird habitat during June and July meant few shorebirds, but there were a few of the most common species before more habitat developed into August. I guess the most unusual birds of the summer were my earliest fall arriving Tennessee and Black-and-white Warbler together on July 20 in rural Carver County southwest of Mayer.

Onto my favorite time of the year for birding and the fall season. Shorebird habitat developed just early enough in August so that I could spend some time seeing shorebirds before all my time went to looking for passerines. 10 years ago I had no idea how lucky I was to have such reliable habitat for shorebirds nearby, and the past 6 years or so the weather has generally cooperated for at least a portion of shorebird migration during each year. Per usual the most numerous shorebirds were Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, and Lesser Yellowlegs. For the year I saw 17 shorebird species which isn't great, but I'll gladly take it for the limited amount of time I spend shorebirding.

I was not particularly impressed with the first portion of fall passerine migration through the first week of September. I strongly suspect that weather was too favorable for migration in August and early September. There were many nights with strong winds from the north during those months. Even late July had some nights with favorable winds from the north. I suspect that some birds may have overflown the area. This fall season I can not compare warbler totals to past falls. I spent half of September in Tennessee, birding there as much as I could. I specifically planned the trip so that the best of warbler migration was over in Minnesota when I left(after the 1st week of September). I was back in Minnesota by late September when the late warbler(Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned) migration was beginning, so I don't think I missed many of those. I actually found bird numbers more impressive once I was back from Tennessee in late September through all of October. Like in the spring, Kinglet and Yellow-rumped Warbler numbers were good this fall. Migrant sparrow numbers were respectable, but I just don't seem to come across many White-crowned or Harris's Sparrow along my walking routes even in the fall. Though fall numbers are always better than the spring. There have been 2 years in the past that were apparently outbreak years for those species in the fall here, but I can't figure out why unless it was just random chance. This fall was easily my best fall for seeing Winter Wren. I also saw more Meadowlark in October than I normally see, particularly Western. For much of October I was wondering where all the blackbird were. The high number of blackbirds in early November explained their lower number in October. In line with the many winter finch reported across Minnesota this fall, this was my best fall for winter finch species.

Fall warbler species seen each day(through early October only) followed by cumulative migrant warbler count(entire season) with my 2008-2017 average fall count in parenthesis

August 18
August 19
August 20
August 21
August 22
August 23
August 24
August 25
August 26
August 27
August 28
August 29
August 30
August 31
September 1
September 2
September 3
September 4
September 5
September 6
September 8
September 26
September 27
September 28
September 29
September 30
October 3
October 4
October 5
October 6
October 7
October 8

Ovenbird 31 (35)
Northern Waterthrush 49 (34)
Golden-winged Warbler 24 (19)
Blue-winged Warbler 26 (10)
Black-and-white Warbler 49 (58)
Prothonotary Warbler 1 (3)
Tennessee Warbler 86 (159)
Orange-crowned Warbler 96 (72)
Nashville Warbler 102 (168)
Connecticut Warbler 1 (1)
Mourning Warbler 11 (11)
Common Yellowthroat 281
American Redstart 265
Cape May Warbler 2 (1)
Northern Parula 2 (6)
Magnolia Warbler 36 (42)
Bay-breasted Warbler 4 (10)
Blackburnian Warbler 18 (21)
Yellow Warbler 48
Chestnut-sided Warbler 90 (76)
Blackpoll Warbler 1 (5)
Palm Warbler 21 (23)
Pine Warbler 1 (2)
Yellow-rumped Warbler 579 (342)
Black-throated Green Warbler 1 (9)
Canada Warbler 39 (31)
Wilson's Warbler 20 (39)

Other species cumulative fall counts

Olive-sided Flycatcher 10
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 4
Alder Flycatcher 5
Willow Flycatcher 5
Least Flycatcher 61
Blue-headed Vireo 9
Philadelphia Vireo 7
Red-breasted Nuthatch 8
Winter Wren 31
Golden-crowned Kinglet 155
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 265
Veery 1
Swainson's Thrush 17
Hermit Thrush 22
Fox Sparrow 91
White-crowned Sparrow 21
Harris's Sparrow 6
White-throated Sparrow 675
Lincoln's Sparrow 47
Eastern Towhee 7
Bobolink 20
Western Meadowlark 8
Eastern Meadowlark 4
Purple Finch 134 (including 1 winter report)
Common Redpoll 88 (including 1 winter report)
Red Crossbill 3
Pine Siskin 125

Warbler and notable totals seen in Tennessee(primarily Cumberland County) September 10-25 for those interested

Magnolia Warbler 49
Tennessee Warbler 43
Chestnut-sided Warbler 36
Hooded Warbler 33
Black-throated Green Warbler 20
Pine Warbler 17
Black-and-white Warbler 14
Bay-breasted Warbler 12
Blackburnian Warbler 12
American Redstart 12
Ovenbird 7
Cape May Warbler 5
Blue-winged Warbler 3
Northern Parula 3
Yellow-throated Warbler 3
Canada Warbler 3
Worm-eating Warbler 2
Golden-winged Warbler 2
Yellow Warbler 2
Palm Warbler 2
Prairie Warbler 2
Common Yellowthroat 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler 1
Wilson's Warbler 1
Yellow-breasted Chat 1

Acadian Flycatcher 2
Eastern Kingbird 2
White-eyed Vireo 5
Blue-headed Vireo 34
Philadelphia Vireo 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
Winter Wren 1
Veery 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush 3
Swainson's Thrush 33
Wood Thrush 8
Summer Tanager 4
Scarlet Tanager 12
Blue Grosbeak 1

I would be remiss not to mention a few species that I failed to see. I did not see Black or Forster's Tern. I could have if I specifically went to areas they were reported, but I am stubborn and keep hoping a few may show up along my typical routes. For the 2nd year in a row, they did not. It was also another year that I did not see a Cerulean Warbler. If they are still breeding in Carver County, there are not many. In the end I saw 216 species in Carver County in 2017 which has become a very normal total. Combined with birds I saw in Tennessee I saw 230 for the year.

John Cyrus

Join or Leave mou-net:
Join us on Facebook!