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Bird Counts

2017 Cowlitz Columbia Christmas Bird Count Results

By Bob Reistroffer

25 field observers and three feeder watchers joined and spent the cool sunny day finding 17,160 birds with 97 species recorded. The temperature ranged from 31° to 42°. Also during count week an additional 3 species were reported

High or low counts this year: No low counts this year but several highs;

249 Trumpeter Swans, 329 Gadwalls, 468 American Wigeons, 445 Northern Shovelers, 342 Ring-necked Ducks, 126 Common Goldeneyes, 96 Hooded Mergansers, 56 Bald Eagles, 5 Greater Yellow Legs, 12 Thayer’s Gulls, 28 Western Meadowlark’s, 

Seen during count week:  Clark’s Grebe, 8 Evening Grosbeaks, and 16 Common Redpolls (first reported sighting in Cowlitz County by Russ Koppendrayer).

Thank you all for a great job.

Hope to see you all next year on Tuesday, Jan 1, 2019.

2018 Cowlitz County Bird List - January Update

Common Redpoll - Russ Koppendrayer
Common Redpoll - Russ Koppendrayer

As usual our composite year list for Cowlitz County got off to a big start on January 1st with the Christmas Bird Count in the Longview/Kelso area.

Then on the 2nd the first ever Cowlitz record of Common Redpolls were found in Longview's Altrusa Park. And not just a single bird, but a nice flock of sixteen mixed with four American Goldfinch. This tiny finch of the north is not found in western Washington annually, but this has been a banner winter for them. Typically when they are found it is one or two individuals in a flock of Pine Siskins, but this year pure flocks of Common Redpolls have been found in numerous places as far south as Olympia. Even farther south there was a flock near Morton for a first Lewis County record and another group seen on Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge in Wahkiakum County.

This phenomenon could well continue through the winter until they return north in late February. They especially like the catkins of alders and birches and may even show up at a seed feeder so be on the lookout in your neighborhood.

Russ shot the image with his phone held up to the scope eyepiece (digiscoped).

Download the pdf here.

2017 Cowlitz County Bird List - Final

Northern Shrike - USFWS
Northern Shrike - USFWS

In the last two months we only added one species, that being a Northern Shrike on Canal Road near Toutle. We seem to find this species in the county about half of the years.

This was enough to get us exactly to 200 species in 2017, a threshold that we do not always reach, but well short of our record of 207 species. The lone species new to the list this year was a Long-tailed Jaeger found on the Woodland Bottoms. We had one miss of a species that is typically found in Cowlitz annually, that being Northern Saw-whet Owl. This species is a fairly common winter species in the conifer forests of the county and a few likely nest here. Its absence from the list reflects more on our not seeking it out than the lack of its presence.

Russ Koppendrayer is looking forward to a fun year of birding in 2018 and seeing all your reports either to him directly or through Tweeters or eBird.

Download the pdf here.

2017 Cowlitz County Bird List - October Update

Sabine's Gull - Image by LynTopinka.
Sabine's Gull - Image by Lyn Topinka.

We were only able to add one species to our list in the last two months, but what a fun species it was. Cowlitz's second ever record of Sabine's Gull showed up in the Woodland Bottoms and spent at least nine days entertaining a large number of birders from Washington and northwest Oregon. This bird was a juvenile and while quite drab when on the water or walking on the shoreline, it shows a very striking black and white pattern when in flight.

Sabine's Gull - Glaucous Winged Gull - LynTopinka
Sabine's Gull - Glaucous-winged Gull - Image by Lyn Topinka

Sabine's Gull is a very common fall migrant in Washington waters of the Pacific Ocean, but a few do seem to come through the interior of the state with some following the Columbia River downstream. Usually these are seen only by one person as they go by. To have one hang around for nine days is quite rare. This small gull favored a public access stretch of the Columbia that is used by bank fishermen and was finding a plentiful food supply of discarded bait and being around fish carcasses and getting small chunks that came off as the larger gulls pulled the carcass apart.

Download the pdf here.

2017 Cowlitz County Bird List - August Update

Long Tailed Jaeger - Image Russ Koppendrayer
Long Tailed Jaeger - Image Russ Koppendrayer

As usual we did not add many species in the last two months at the end of breeding season and the onset of fall migration. The highlight of the period was definitely a Long-tailed Jaeger that showed up on a beach of the Columbia River in the Woodland Bottoms. This species is noted for following the Arctic Tern migration from whom they try to steal food. This occurs well out into the Pacific Ocean and they are seen from land quite infrequently.

There are a very limited number of records away from salt water in the state of Washington. This was one of the bigger surprise sightings of my 20 years of avidly birding in Cowlitz County. Just keeps me wanting to keep getting out there to see what shows up next, and late fall seems to be the best time of year for rarities to show up, so keep your eyes open.