Thanks for organizing the count and making sure it got done. It was truly sad to see the impact on the human and natural environment.
There was a similar near absence of resident land and marsh birds after Rita for the Sabine Count and after Katrina for the Venice Count (and in New Orleans for that matter). It took many years for resident landbirds like woodpeckers, cardinals and chickadees to slowly recolonize the lower Mississippi River peninsula back down to the Venice area. One species, House Sparrow, is still not back.
While the condition of vegetation was horrifying, I actually think that habitat at Creole this year looked a little better than did the habitat in Cameron in Dec. of 2005 after Rita. Maybe that is a function of the timing of the storms or the amount of rainfall that fell since the storms--Katrina and Rita were unfortunately followed by drought.
One thing I vividly recall is that in 2006, the next year, we found a huge number of sparrows during the Sabine Count, presumably responding to the explosion of un-grazed grasses and weeds--cows weren't brought back until fences were repaired and people had somewhere to live. One of the most common hazards down there in Creole now are miles of barbed wire fences and posts, ripped out and tangled everywhere.
From: <labird...> <labird...> On Behalf Of Johnson, Erik via groups.io
Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2021 12:55 PM
To: LABIRD NEW <labird...>
Subject: [labird] Creole CBC Summary
On 3 January 2021, 17 observers in 6 parties participated in the 36th Creole CBC. This was obviously ground zero for both Hurricanes Laura and Delta, and the devastation to property and habitat is massive. There was very little green, most homes and camps were either battered to smithereens or gone, although a few homes and camps were in the process of rebuilding. The habitat will eventually recover, but it will take a while - much of the early succession shrub-scrub was scoured, wetlands had a lot of wrack and debris, and cheniers lots large limbs and trees.
Because of similar effort compared to recent years, especially the previous 7 years, the comparison of bird numbers I feel is quite reflective of the acute impacts to local bird populations as well as the ongoing impacts from the loss of habitat quality and quantity. Resident landbird numbers were way down. This was the first year ever that Blue Jay was missed (24-53 counted in previous 7 years), and there were zero Eurasian Collared-Doves (5-80 previously), zero Inca Doves (7-43 previously), zero Red-bellied Woodpeckers (2-16 previously), zero Hairy Woodpeckers (2-6 previously), and zero Carolina Wrens (1-7 previously). Participants also found only 1 White-winged Dove (18-186 previously), 10 Mourning Doves (17-215 previously), 1 Downy Woodpecker (5-20 previously), 2 Loggerhead Shrikes (57-117 previously), 152 European Starlings (286-955 previously), 15 Northern Mockingbirds (57-106 previously), 3 Brown-headed Cowbirds (81-613 previously), 1 Common Grackle (20-827 previously), and 7 Northern Cardinals (28-106 previously). Similarly, only 4 Common Gallinules were found (259-757 previously).
Migratory landbird numbers were also down, but generally not completely absent. Interestingly, there were good numbers of Tree Swallows, American Robins (the most in last 8 years), and Yellow-rumped Warblers (also the most in last 8 years). Waterbird numbers were above average, and shorebird and duck numbers were among the highest they've been in many years, presumably from mudflats and shallow water that were created as vegetation was scoured away. Compared to the previous 7 years, Green-winged Teal, Double-crested Cormorant, American White Pelican, Great Egret, American Avocet, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, and Lesser Yellowlegs counts were highest this year.
The species total was a mere 120, far short of last year's record of 151. This is a count that consistently has turned up >135 species each year. The only bold-faced rarities that were found included Least Bittern and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Surely it will take time for the region to recover, much like what we saw after Rita and Ike (and Katrina, etc.). I'm hoping the Creole CBC will serve as a useful index for documenting these changes going forward.
A huge thank you to the participants who braved the emotional and physical elements to make this count happen: Amanda Anderson, Katie Barnes, David Booth, Keith Brink, Charlotte Chehotsky, Ken Eyster, Paul Fontenot, Dale Hamilton, Kevin Leigh, Becky Lloyd, Mike Musumeche, David Muth, John Nelson, John Parker, Natalie Poole, and Melvin Weber.
Erik.Johnson AT audubon.org