Date: 1/8/18 12:26 pm
From: newtja84 <newtja84...>
Subject: [ia-bird] Humboldt CBC

The Humboldt Christmas Bird Count was held January 5th, 2018, the date was
changed due to inclement weather conditions. As such, the date change did
give us marginally improved conditions with light winds, mostly clear skies
and ten degrees of extra warmth. Snow pack conditions provided anywhere
between 1.5 to 4 inches of cover in general. Most water was fully iced
over except for some of the traditional locations on the West Des Moines
River below Rutland Dam and within Humboldt south of Nokomis Dam. We had
three field parties this year, which greatly improves our ability to cover
ground and more thoroughly inspect areas. As such we detected 33 species
of birds. This is statistically above the Humboldt count circle's fifteen
year average of 30 species. We saw collectively an estimated 1802
individuals which is also above average for Humboldt Count circle.

Notable things found this year include a large roosting flock of 170
Red-winged Blackbirds found West of Rutland, a Short-eared Owl that was
flushed at Ottosen Potholes, and 3 Merlins (a small falcon that hunts
birds) representing the largest number of that species on the count. A
Song Sparrow was also detected representing only the second time that
species has been detected on the count. Backyard finches decided to be
detected this year as both House Finches and an American Goldfinch were
found on local feeders, this count circle has an 'on again off again'
relationship when it comes to detecting some backyard bird species such as
finches, so finding them this year was a pleasant surprise. Other
historically unreliable species (largely due to foibles of detection I
suspect) found include Cedar Waxwings, Mourning Doves and Cooper's Hawk.
Ring-necked Pheasants numbered high this year, but not well distributed;
the vast majority of this year's pheasants came in the form of two sizable
flocks. Wild Turkeys were hard to find with only two being detected. No
Gray Partridge were detected, though that isn't terribly surprising since
that species is notoriously difficult to detect. Bald Eagles were present
in higher than average numbers, which fits with the good showing that
raptors in general had this year.

Particularly notable misses this year include a baffling lack of Eurasian
Collared-doves. This large, white dove with a black neck ring is an
non-native, invasive species that has had a firm grip in Humboldt County
for a long while and in the communities surrounding the count circle (Bode,
Ottosen, Livermore) are almost annoying in their numbers, yet this year
weren't to be found even within Rutland, which has historically been the
place to find them in the circle. This species is undoubtedly present, it
is undoubtedly a detection issue rather than a presence issue. Another
disappointing disappearance was the lack of Snow Buntings, the small
roadside bird wasn't present in the flocks of other such roadside birds
like Horned Lark or Lapland Longspur, which were detected. Sparrow
diversity in general was also lackluster, only three species of the five or
six sparrow species possible were detected this year. Another miss that I
keep eyes and ears open for is our small, resident owl, the Eastern Screech
Owl, admittedly they are hard to detect in general but I had hoped we may
get lucky, especially when the two, larger resident owl species (Barred and
Great Horned) were detected.

Overall the Humboldt Christmas Bird Count was successful. It was a fun, if
chilly, day out and hopefully we can provide some useful information for
posterity's sake. I would like to thank Tyler Harms and Bill Blackburn for
the miles on foot and car they put in, as well as the time they put in
helping me. Having a little help makes this day go far more successfully
than when I have done this count alone.

Jacob Newton
Ottosen, Humboldt County, IA

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