Date: 1/7/18 8:06 pm
From: Matt Bartels <mattxyz...>
Subject: [Tweeters] Seattle Christmas Bird Count 30 Dec 2017 - summary of results
Tweeters -
We’ll have a complete write-up for every species total and the like up on the Seattle Audubon website before long, but for now here’s a summary of last weekend’s Seattle CBC:

2017 Seattle Christmas Bird Count
30 December 2017

132 species tallied (count day + count week)
Count day: 129 species
Count week: 3 additional species
Individual birds: 51,625 birds
Observers: 304

The 2017 Seattle Christmas Bird Count came in strong – After several years with lower than usual numbers, this year, with over fifty-one thousand birds, was the highest since 2009. We tied our previous record for count-day species reported, with 129 [tied w/ 2006 and 2011]. And our count day + count week total of 132 species was only one below the highest total ever recorded in our circle.

Once again, participation was high with over 300 people taking part for only the second time ever. Feeder watchers continues to be a growing and important part of our circle, with 72 feeder watch participants tallying 2418 birds [about 5% of the total]. On the bird front, we had one species new to the count this year: The Seattle Rose-breasted Grosbeak put in a good showing and was accompanied by two Mountain Chickadees. There was also a third Mountain Chickadee seen in West Seattle, great for a species seen only three times previously in the last forty years. Another highlight was two shearwaters [Sooty or Short-tailed], only the third time they’ve appeared for the count. A Townsend’s Solitaire and a Wilson’s Warbler round out the most notable species. Finally, Common Redpolls were a star for many, with a record 140 tallied, spread across six different sectors.

Notable Misses:
Three species were only picked up as count week birds: Ring-necked Pheasant, Mourning Dove and Brewer’s Blackbird. In addition, species entirely missed for the count circle included: Greater White-fronted Goose, California Quail, Marbled Murrelet (now missed on count day four of the last five years), Green Heron and Evening Grosbeak.

Record high counts:
For the modern period (1972-present), high counts were recorded for twenty species! Tundra Swan [4], Wood Duck [79], Redhead [18], Long-tailed Duck [2 tied w/ several years], Anna’s Hummingbird [755], Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater [2], Bald Eagle [161], Belted Kingfisher [43 tied w/ 2015], Northern Flicker [474], Peregrine Falcon [11 tied w/2011], California Scrub-Jay [27], Common Raven [12], Common Redpoll [140], Spotted Towhee [388], Song Sparrow [1018], White-crowned Sparrow [126], Golden-crowned Sparrow [352], Dark-eyed Junco [2157], Wilson’s Warbler [1, tied w/ a few years] and Rose-breasted Grosbeak [1 – new to count]

[numbers in brackets indicate the total number seen and the percentage as a ratio of the 10-year average on the count]

Ducks and geese:
Ducks showed a mixed trend this year, with dabbling ducks largely doing well, but saltwater diving ducks showing evidence of their seeming long local decline. A number of species showed higher than usual numbers: Cackling Geese [285, 853% of 10-year average], Canada Goose [1331, 156%], Wood Duck [79, 280%], Eurasian Wigeon [13, 130%] Redhead [18, 559%], and Red-breasted Merganser [203, 147%]. On the other end of the spectrum, a number of ducks came in lower than recent averages: Snow Goose [21, 35%], Ring-necked Duck [341, 67%], Surf Scoter [295, 32%], Black Scoter [12, 60%], Bufflehead [509, 57%] and Barrow’s Goldeneye [196, 64%].

Grebes, pigeons, hummingbirds:
Pied-billed Grebe came in at their normal strong level [193, 105%], as did Horned Grebe [303, 99%] and Red-necked Grebe [115, 105%]. Western Grebe, though twice as high as last year’s count, were still running well below the 10-year average [601, 72%]. Rock Pigeons were found only a bit below their 10-year average [1939, 87%], Band-tailed Pigeons [95, 197%] came in strong this year. Eurasian Collared-Doves continue to be absent from the Seattle CBC. Another huge rise in Anna’s Hummingbird numbers [755, 255%] has to be at least in part attributable to the increased use of feeder watchers for our count.

Shorebirds, alcids, loons:
No clear trends among our winter shorebirds – we recorded seven species, with Killdeer [56, 94%] and Wilson’s Snipe [18, 98%] coming in right around their average, Black Turnstone [73, 79%] and Surfbird [58, 66%] coming in low, and Spotted Sandpiper [6, 167%], Sanderling [150, 278%], and Dunlin [91, 351%] coming in higher than usual. We missed Western & Least Sandpipers, but actually those have been recorded only once each in the past twenty years.

Alcids were low across the board, even beyond the missing Marbled Murrelets. Common Murre [25, 31%] in were low this year, though not as low as last year's total of three.

Like many of the other diving birds, loons were present in lower numbers, but still remained pretty close to the recent averages: Red-throated Loon [27, 89%], Pacific Loon [20, 83%], and Common Loon [10, 75%].

Tubenoses?!, cormorants:
The two shearwaters spotted by the Bainbridge crew [but flying close to Seattle shores] represent only the second time we’ve had tubenoses on count day [+ once more time on count week]. Brandt’s Cormorant [409, 155%] and Double-crested Cormorant [883, 128%] were reported in high numbers, and Pelagic Cormorant [44, 97%] were seen in close-to-regular numbers, perhaps bucking the lower than usual trend for other diving birds.

Hawks and owls:
All raptors were present in higher than usual numbers this year, from the record high for Bald Eagles [161, 221%], to a single Northern Harrier [1, 900%], only the second in ten years. Sharp-shinned Hawk [16, 154%], Cooper’s Hawk [23, 104%] and Red-tailed Hawk [44, 123%] rounded out the strong showing. We recorded 18 owls from five different species, including Barn Owl [3, 108%], Western Screech-Owl [1, 59%], Great Horned Owl [4, 308%], Barred Owl [8, 111%], and N. Saw-whet Owl [2, 118%].

Woodpeckers and falcons:
All woodpecker species were seen at higher than usual numbers, including Downy Woodpecker [89, 134%], and the record high Northern Flicker [474, 153%]. In addition to a high count for Peregrine Falcon [11, 145%], we did well with Merlin [17, 181%], and had an American Kestrel on the count for only the second time in 15 years.

Corvids mostly showed up in good numbers, with Steller’s Jay [254, 143%], California Scrub-Jay [27, 370% - high count], American Crow [5558, 60%], and Common Raven [12, 442%]. The crow total was our third lowest in the last two decades, a continuing figure impacted by the crow roosts moving out of the circle area.

Kinglets were a bit lower than usual this year: Golden-crowned Kinglet [771, 73%], and Ruby-crowned Kinglet [334, 92%]. Thrush were present in strong numbers, with the highlight being a Townsend’s Solitaire.

The story on finch numbers was mixed: On the one hand some were present in strong numbers, led by our record high for Common Redpoll [140, 6667%!], but also seen with Purple Finch [30, 242%] and House Finch [867, 121%]. On the low side, we missed Evening Grosbeak, had only nine Red Crossbill [9, 11%], and saw low numbers of Pine Siskin [429, 29%], and American Goldfinch [401, 80%].

Five sparrow species set record counts: Spotted Towhee [388, 142%], Song Sparrow [1018, 132%], White-crowned Sparrow [126, 261%], Golden-crowned Sparrow [352, 175%], and Dark-eyed Junco [2157, 181%].

Warblers were mostly present in good numbers with Townsend’s a bit low and a single Wilson’s Warbler being a highlight [only three previous count-day sightings for Seattle]: Orange-crowned Warbler [6, 159%], Yellow-rumped Warbler [243, 131%], Townsend’s Warbler [17, 63%].

There might be a few tweaks as the final bits and pieces come in, but that about covers it.

Thanks to everyone who participated and made this another great count.

Matt Bartels
Seattle CBC Compiler
Seattle, WA
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