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Bird Counts

36th Cowlitz-Columbia CBC Results

By Bob Reistroffer

On Wednesday, January 1, 2020 the 36th Cowlitz-Columbia Christmas Bird Count (3CBC) was conducted. We had 18 field observers and 2 feeder watchers out for the day peering through rain and low clouds and finding 95 species of birds. The species count this year was in the normal range for this count.

The count circle was begun informally in 1982 with 57 species and 4,545 individual birds found. In 1984, after two informal years, we started our first official 3CBC.

This year (our 36th official count) we found 95 species and 11,732 individuals. We recorded some all time individual high counts; 32 Great Egret, 30 Wood Duck, 16 Thayer’s Gull, 27 Common Raven, plus 5 Eurasian Wigeon. There were some Low counts too, 24 Common Merganser, 15 House Finch. Also we had 5 count week birds Ross’s Goose, White-Throated Sparrow, Barred Owl, Ruffed Grouse, and Hermit Thrush

Thank you to all our field observers and feeder watchers.

Wahkiakum CBC Results

By Andrew Emlen

On December 30, 2019, 25 volunteers participated in the 22nd annual Wahkiakum CBC. Calm weather and 47 degree F temperatures allowed us to find over 51,000 individuals of 119 species, our second highest species tally and just one shy of our all-time high of 120 species.

The most abundant species in the circle this winter was Cackling Goose, with a tally of 20,967, breaking the previous high count of 16,099. Second was Greater Scaup with a tally of 4878, along with 3072 Greater/Lesser Scaup. Third was European Starling at 3663. A Northern Waterthrush at the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge tide gate was not only new to the count but also a Wahkiakum County first. Many birders went to see it in the days following the count.

A Lesser Yellowlegs in Brownsmead and a trio of California Quail on Shingle Mill Road were also new to the count. Other unusual species included Barrow's Goldeneye, Clark's Grebe, and Common Yellowthroat. For the third winter running, three Turkey Vultures are wintering on Puget Island; this winter, all three were seen on count day.

The endangered "Streaked" Horned Larks appear to be thriving under the Army Corps of Engineers' management for them on Whites Island; 36 were seen in the circle on count day.

New high counts were set for Cackling Goose, Trumpeter Swan (20, previous high 9), American Kestrel (39, previous high 20), Chestnut-backed Chickadee (144, previous high 119), Red-winged Blackbird (873, previous high 801), and Brown-headed Cowbird (13, previous high 9).

Notable misses included Rock Pigeon and Great Horned Owl.

Leadbetter Christmas Bird Count Results

By Robert Sudar

Strong coastal storm systems in the preceding days gave way to better weather on Saturday, December 21st, as 29 intrepid counters took part in the Leadbetter Point Christmas Bird Count.  The count circle is centered in Willapa Bay and includes about half of the Long Beach Peninsula along with a considerable portion of land on the east side of the bay.  The counters were distributed over seven portions of the circle, recording species and numbers from before daylight (when a Great Horned Owl was heard!) until dusk.  Overall, 97 species were seen (or heard) on count day and two more during “count week”. 

As has been the case every year there were some interesting results, both encouraging and disappointing.  On a positive note, there were record numbers of Pacific Loon (8), Pied-bill Grebe (27), Spotted Towhee (86), Brown Creeper (8), Double-crested Cormorant (128), Red-winged Blackbird (500), Brewer’s Blackbird (192), Bald Eagle (58), Pine Siskin (953), Ring-billed Gull (1425!), Eurasian-collared Dove (125) and Belted Kingfisher (28).  That’s a lot of new record highs!

On the other hand, there were no Scaups of either species at all, along with no Mourning Doves and only a single Coot.  There were also no Great Egrets or Bitterns, species which are not always seen but still a disappointment when we can’t include them.  I remember seeing my first Great Egret on the 1981 count, the first time I participated, in the Bay Center area.  I find it interesting that I now see them so frequently in the Longview area, but they appear to remain only an occasional visitor to the coast.

2019 Cowlitz Columbia CBC Results

 By Bob Reistroffer

On Tuesday, January 1, 2019 the 37th Cowlitz-Columbia Christmas Bird Count (3CBC), the first of the New Year, was conducted. We had 19 field observers and 3 feeder watchers out for the day peering through the fog and finding 89 species of birds. The species count this year was the lowest since 2010. Since 2010 we have had 4 years with over 100 species and the rest in the mid 90’s. Our highest species number was 108 in 2013 and 2016.

The count circle was begun in 1982 with 57 species and 4,545 individual birds found. This year we found 89 species and 14,721 individuals. We recorded some all time individual high counts; 597 Tundra Swans, 394 Ring-necked Ducks, 165 Buffleheads, 664 Rock Doves, 13 Red-breasted Sapsuckers, 200 Western Scrub Jays, 98 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 768 American Robins, and 13 Brown Creepers(tied a high).

Thank you to all our field observers and feeder watchers.

2019 Wahkiakum CBC Results

By Andrew Emlen

We found 109 species (about average for this circle) plus six additional count week species, despite fairly steady rain. The most abundant species in the circle was Greater Scaup with a count of 23,832, followed by Cackling Goose with 12,240. The most unusual species found were a Lesser Goldfinch (a Wahkiakum county and Wahkiakum CBC first) on Puget Island, a Harris's Sparrow on Aldrich Point Road in Brownsmead, and a Lesser Yellowlegs on Jackson-Pentilla Road in Brownsmead (a first for this CBC). New high counts were set for Trumpeter Swan, Cinnamon Teal, Ring-necked Duck (302, previous high 188), Black Phoebe (10, previous high 4), California Scrub-jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Brown Creeper, and American Robin (683, previous high 394).

We missed Townsend's Warbler for the first time. A count of 1 Western Grebe was disturbingly low (previous low 23, previous high 245).

The count was hampered somewhat by the government shutdown, as the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge boat could not be used to access the more inaccessible islands (Marsh and Karlson Islands) of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. Nevertheless, most islands were accessed via kayaks.

Thanks again to everyone for volunteering!

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