By Andrew Emlen
The 24th annual Wahkiakum CBC was held January 5, 2022, after canceling on December 28, 2021 due to weather. 15 volunteers found 57,425 individual birds of 113 species plus 2 additional count week species. Temperatures were from 35-40 degrees F with an east wind of 5-7 mph and a nearly ceaseless light rain. Despite having fewer volunteers (usually there are 20-24), this is close to average in terms of numbers of individual birds and species.
The most abundant species this year was Cackling Goose with 20,367 counted, followed by Greater Scaup at 9002 and European Starling at 2900. These are the usual top three. Cackling Geese represented over 35% of all the individuals counted. Conditions made it difficult to find birds that are dependent on flying insects, but as Mike Patterson noted in his trip report, “It was a good day for ducks”.
New high counts were set for six waterfowl species: Snow Goose 430 (former high 141), Trumpeter Swan 27 (20), American Wigeon 2089 (2037), Mallard 2567 (1688), Green-winged Teal 2344 (2199), and Common Merganser 219 (183). A total of 44,354 ducks, geese and swans represented over 77% of all individual birds counted. Other new high counts were for Dunlin 1220 (1006), Red-shouldered Hawk 12 (8) and Rough-legged Hawk 7 (4). The increase in Red-shouldered Hawks for the Wahkiakum Count mirrors increases across Oregon and Washington.
To see how Dr. Steve Hampton used CBC data to track west coast species that have been expanding their ranges northward with the warming climate, see https://thecottonwoodpost.net/2020/03/09/the-invasion-of-the-pacific-northwest-californias-birds-expand-north-with-warmer-winters
All of the species he examines have shown similar overall trends in the Wahkiakum CBC circle.
Many thanks to all volunteers for counting on a challenging day.