Bird Counts

Local Christmas Bird Counts Results

Leadbetter CBC 2012

Image: Suzy Whittey - Male Summer Tanager

By Suzy Whittey

This was the Christmas bird count that almost did not happen.  When I discovered in mid-November that no one was organizing the Leadbetter CBC that I had participated in for years, I volunteered for the job.  I could not imagine a Christmas without counting birds.  I also, could not imagine the job, or I might not have tackled it.

Continue reading to see the results for Cowlitz-Columbia and Wahkiakum County circles.

So, I want to give my special thanks to Bob  & Pat Reistroffer, Jackie Ferrier, John & Margaret Green, Darrell Whipple, and Tom Finn who stepped up to be group leaders.  To Alan Richards who guided me along the way and to Robert & Sam Sudar for compiling the data and getting it to Audubon.  Without these new friends, who educated me by sharing their group’s information, and by answering all my silly questions, I could not have pulled it off.

Image: Russ Ashley - Black-throated Blue WarblerOur six groups consisted of eighteen other dedicated birders who slogged through wet grass, mud, dripping forests, steady rain, wind and some hail to do what we love to do.  BIRD!

Kathleen Sayce gave me a list of home owners who live along the west shore of Willapa Bay and with access to their properties were able to count the length of the bay.  Another special thanks to all of these gracious land owners.  And let’s not forget the four feeder watchers who love the birds in their yards.

Thank you all so very much for making my Christmas special this year.  Happy Birding in the New Year, and I can’t wait for next year’s Christmas Bird Count.  Do you have any idea who will organize it?  Who me?


31st Cowlitz Columbia CBC

By Bob Reistroffer

On January 1, 2013 the 31st 3CBC was held as part of Audubon's 113th Christmas Bird Count. Eighteen field observers and 3 feeder watchers joined and spent the overcast day finding 19,554 birds and a record 108 species. The temperature ranged from 32° to 34°.Image: Janice Higby

We had several high counts: 47 Pied-billed Grebe,  4,161 Cackling Goose, 577 Northern Pintail, 1,682 Greater Scaup, 106 Common Goldeneye, 60 Red-tailed Haws, 9 Virginia Rail, 193 Eurasian Collared-Dove,  7 Great Horned Owl, 71 Northern Flicker, 153 Western Scrub Jay, 19 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 2 American Dipper, 4 Orange-crowned Warbler, 79 Spotted Towhee, 372 Song Sparrow, 16 Lincoln’s Sparrow, 287 Golden-crowned Sparrow, and last but not least 437 House Sparrows.

Seen during count week:  1 Ruffed Grouse, New to the count this year: 1 Red-shouldered Hawk, 1 Swamp Sparrow, 1 Barred Owl.

A detailed pdf file with 3C results is available here.

Thank you all for a great job and a great potluck. Hope to see you all next year on Wednesday, Jan 1, 2014.


2012 Wahkiakum CBC

By Andrew Emlen

On Friday, December 28, 21 volunteers participated in the 15th annual Wahkiakum Christmas Bird Count. The Wahkiakum Count is one of over 2000 Christmas Bird Counts, bird censuses which take place throughout the Western Hemisphere between December 14th and January 5th each year. The Christmas Bird Count is the world’s longest-running citizen science survey, having taken place every year since 1900. The data are compiled into an online database accessible to everyone, and those data are used to monitor the population and distribution of wintering birds. Over 60,000 people throughout the Americas participate. Examples of uses for CBC data include documentation of declining species as well as helping to provide proof of the recovery of the Bald Eagle, allowing our national bird to be removed from the endangered species list. Local volunteers found 59 Bald Eagles last year and 56 this year, Wahkiakum’s two highest counts for that species.

Each count takes place in a 15-mile diameter circle. The center of the Wahkiakum Count is in Clifton, Oregon, so the area encompassed by the Wahkiakum circle includes Cathlamet, Nassa Point, Beaver Creek, Puget Island, The Julia Butler Hansen Refuge, much of the Skamokawa valleys, most of the Lewis & Clark Wildlife Refuge, and  Westport, Brownsmead, Knappa and Clifton on the Oregon side of the Columbia. Each year the count compiler, Andrew Emlen, recruits and organizes volunteers to count as many birds within the circle as possible in one day, starting with a few people looking for owls before daylight. Each group is assigned a particular area within the circle, one of the safeguards to avoid double-counting.

Image: Andrew Emlen: Anna's Hummingbird47,692 individual birds of 122 different species were counted within the circle on Friday. “This was a record number of species for our count”, reported Emlen. “We didn’t find anything really unusual, but we had mild weather and thorough coverage of the area, so we missed very few species that should have been found in the circle.”

The kinds of birds found within the Wahkiakum circle has changed over the years. One example is the Red-shouldered Hawk, the range of which has been moving northward. “When we first found a Red-shouldered Hawk here in 1999, it was a rarity in Washington. We didn’t find another until 2009. Then last year we found two, and this year six. They are now here year-round and seem to be established.” Black Phoebe and Northern Mockingbird are other species that will probably become more common as they move north. In 2009, The National Audubon Society’s “Birds and Climate Change: An Analysis of the Christmas Bird Count” found that 177 of the 305 species in the analysis had shifted their ranges to the north over the previous 40 years. This correlated with a rise in January temperatures of nearly 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the same period.

Other new birds have moved into the area for other reasons. After being introduced to the Bahamas from Europe, the Eurasian Collared-Dove flew on its own to Florida in 1982 and has spread rapidly across the country. Year by year, the doves showed up on Christmas Bird Counts farther and farther northwest. They first appeared on the Wahkiakum count in 2009. Thirty were found on count day this year, most of them on Puget Island, where they are a familiar sight at feeders or sitting on power lines.

The Christmas Bird Count is a good opportunity for those who are interested in birds to help contribute to our knowledge of them. Anyone who would like to help with next year’s count may contact Andrew Emlen at 360-795-8009.

A detailed pdf file with Wahkiakum results is available here.

Results of any of the Christmas Bird Counts may be found at