46th annual bird count report

Rarely seen species spotted, turkey count dips
12/30/13

The weather on Saturday, December 14, the date of the 46th annual UW-Richland bird count made for a productive field day. 

“What a contrast in weather from the 2012 count. Last year we had all-day rain, but this year we had ideal weather,” said UW-Richland emeritus biology faculty member Robert Hirschy, a coordinator of the count for all its 46-year history. “Our 57 species was the second highest in count history, just one less than our record 58 in 2005. We had a near-record 48 people in the field. The total of 10,364 birds seen was just slightly higher than our 20-year average. Over 600 miles were logged by car with another 35 miles on foot.”

This was the first year a Vesper Sparrow was seen. “Last year, only one Vesper Sparrow was reported from the 106 Christmas Bird Counts in Wisconsin,” Hirschy said. “The Vesper Sparrow is a grassland bird which nests on the ground. They’re fairly common during the summer but most have gone to the southern U.S. by the first of November. With the addition of the Vesper Sparrow, our 46-year total goes up to 95 species.”

Hirschy reports that after a five-year absence, a ruffed grouse was finally reported. “It was flushed just south of Fancy Creek in the northwestern part of our circle,” he said.

At 16 seen, the Yellow-rumped Warbler set a count record. With 56 spotted, the number of Eastern Bluebirds seen in 2013 was the second-highest of that species in count history. Hirschy notes, as well, that Red-headed Woodpeckers seem to be on the increase, with the most spotted (13) in 21 years.

The count of Wild Turkeys, however, was down. “We had the fewest Wild Turkeys (254) in nine years. For several years we were #1 in the state, but recently other counts have recorded considerably more than we have,” Hirschy said.

The count surveys a 15-mile circle, the center of which is Orion Town Hall near the junction of Highways O and TB. Hirschy points out that the 15-mile diameter circle area of the count includes the east side of Muscoda over to Avoca, as well as territory in Richland County.

The 2014 Bird Count is planned for Saturday, December 20, 2014. For more information, contact Hirschy by e-mail at robert.hirschy@uwc.edu or by phone at (608) 647-3042.

The tally for the count is:

 

UW-Richland 2013 Bird Count

 

Dark-eyed Junco

 

2002

 

 

Yellow-rumped Warbler

 

16

European Starling

1443

 

Red-winged Blackbird

15

House Sparrow

1212

 

Red-headed Woodpecker

13

Rock Pigeon

886

 

Pileated Woodpecker

13

American Goldfinch

700

 

American Robin

12

American Crow

579

 

Eurasian Collared-dove

10

Blue Jay

524

 

Red-breasted Nuthatch

8

American Tree Sparrow

461

 

Common Redpoll

7

Mourning Dove

440

 

Song Sparrow

6

Black-capped Chickadee

352

 

Cooper’s Hawk

5

Wild Turkey

254

 

Belted Kingfisher

5

Horned Lark

242

 

Northern Flicker

5

Northern Cardinal

225

 

Northern Shrike

5

White-breasted Nuthatch

114

 

Great Horned Owl

4

Downy Woodpecker

111

 

Barred owl

4

Purple Finch

79

 

Fox Sparrow

4

House Finch

75

 

Ring-necked Pheasant

4

Canada Goose

64

 

Brown Creeper

3

Red-bellied Woodpecker

64

 

Sharp-shinned Hawk

3

Eastern Bluebird

56

 

Carolina Wren

2

Snow Bunting

55

 

Northern Harrier

2

Red-tailed Hawk

54

 

Ruffed Grouse

1

Bald Eagle

47

 

Red-shouldered Hawk

1

Hairy Woodpecker

37

 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

1

American Kestrel

31

 

Golden-crowned Kinglet

1

Cedar Waxwing

30

 

Swamp Sparrow

1

Mallard

29

 

White-crowned Sparrow

1

Tufted Titmouse

28

 

Vesper Sparrow

1

Rough-legged Hawk

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total species =57   

Total count=

 

10,364

 

 

###

Contact

Dorothy Thompson
608.647.6186, ext. 231