Results of Eastside Audubon’s December 15, 2018 Christmas Bird Count
By Sharon Cormier-Aagaard, Eastside Audubon Society CBC Compiler
Eastside Audubon held our 2018 Christmas Bird Count on December 15. It is part of the nation’s longest running community science bird project. Here is a summary of our findings and a few interesting facts about the count.
The EAS Count Circle
All Christmas Bird Count (CBC) circles throughout North America and the world are 15 miles in diameter, and have a center point. Ours is in Beaver Lake in the city of Sammamish and our circle has 15 sections found in Marymoor Park/Ames Lake, West Snoqualmie Valley, East Snoqualmie Valley, Lake Sammamish State Park & Issaquah, West Lake Sammamish Parks, East Lake Sammamish Trail, Sammamish Plateau, and Fall City/Preston. All CBCs are held annually during a 3-week period and choose a date from December 14th through January 5th. On behalf of Eastside Audubon Society's (EAS) annual CBC, 64 volunteers were tallying outside in our CBC circle and one was at home watching backyard feeders on December 15, 2018. Several volunteers started before dawn to look for owls; some hiked forest and city park trails; and many drove from spot to spot counting birds in parks and neighborhoods. The results will be tallied and submitted to National Audubon for ongoing research on bird population trends and effects of climate change.
During last year's count, the 118th year, ours was one of the 2,585 CBCs held during the annual 3-week period.
463 counts were held in Canada, 1,957 in the United States (49 of these in our state of Washington!), and 165 in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands.
There was a grand total of 76,987 CBC participants (14,264 in Canada, 58,719 in the US, and 4,004 in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Pacific Islands).
A total of 59,242,067 individual birds of 2,673 species and 426 additional forms and hybrids were tallied. In total 287 species were tallied in Canada, and 666 countable species (plus 44 identifiable forms and 44 exotic species) were tallied in the US.
One-quarter of the species of birds in the world were tallied.
Our 35th CBC
This was National Audubon's 119th CBC and EAS's 35th. Our first was in 1981 (there were no counts in 1982, 1983 and 1989). As we know, our winter weather can often be wet, windy and cold, but oh, what a grand day we had! The day's temperatures ranged from 42-51F, winds were mild at 0-4 mph, skies were cloudy to partly cloudy, our ponds weren’t frozen, and rivers were flowing. It was a great day to be outside counting birds!
All the Birds We Counted
Overall, 101 species were tallied on “count day”, plus an additional 7 “count week” birds (species reported 3 days before or 3 days after, but not seen on Dec. 15), for a grand total of 108 species for this year’s CBC. Our highest count ever was 110 total birds in 2014 (97 count day plus 13 count week). The number of individual birds seen this year was 28,388, about 11,253 birds higher than the 20-year average of 17,135. The highest individual number of birds we have ever counted was 28,674 birds in 1999.
Want to see our averages for the last 20 years? Find them here.
7 Count Week Birds
Common Yellowthroat at Sikes Lake on Dec. 12, Peregrine Falcon at Fall City/Preston area on Dec. 12, Greater White-fronted Goose at Marymoor on Dec. 13, Brown-headed Cowbird at Gander Pond in Sammamish on Dec. 14, Cliff Swallow at Sikes Lake on Dec. 14, Band-tailed Pigeon at Sammamish on Dec. 16, and American Pipit at Remlinger Farms on Dec. 17.
Owls are Always Exciting…We Tallied 3 Different Types
Three Barn Owls (West Snoqualmie, Lake Sammamish State Park & Marymoor), one Northern Saw-whet Owl (Tiger Mountain), and one Short-eared Owl (Issaquah).
First Ever Species In Our CBC
One Swamp Sparrow at West Snoqualmie on Dec. 15 count day; plus an unexpected winter sighting of a Cliff Swallow at Sikes Lake on Dec. 14 (count week).
A flock of over 2,500 Snow Geese were in the air and feeding on the ground at Remlinger Farm in Snoqualmie Valley on count day. Flocks of this size and in the tens of thousands are a common winter sight up north in the Skagit Valley, whereas, for our area, a typical sighting is one or a few Snow Geese, not in the thousands. This is notable!
Birds Missed This CBC
Canvasback & Redhead ducks—were both at Lake Sammamish State Park for a couple months and last reported there Dec. 3; California Quail—seen and heard at Sammamish a couple weeks before and a couple days after our count week ended; Savannah Sparrow; Rough-legged Hawk—one near Duvall but not in our count circle; Herring Gull–one seen at Lake Sammamish State Park a couple weeks before Dec. 15; Great-horned and Barred Owls-- reported days before and after our count week; Hutton’s Vireo; Canada Jay (formerly Gray Jay) – we enjoyed tallying them for nine years in a row (2007-2015), but they've not been heard or seen at the top of Tiger Mountain since our 2015 CBC (they’ve been reported farther east at Rattlesnake Ridge, which is not in our count circle).
Appreciation For All That You Do
Thank you… to the 15 teams of 64 birders who came outside to volunteer from dawn to dusk, and to the one person who counted yard birds; to the volunteers who organized, shopped, cooked and helped with the CBC dinner; to the Corvid Crier editor, article writers, and webmaster; to Sheila for spreadsheets and team packets; to Jan for overall support; to all the EAS office staff; and to everyone involved in this important, annual event. You are valued and appreciated!
Save the Date for our 2019 CBC
Add this date to your calendar for next year's CBC: Saturday, December 14, 2019.
Image of Snow Goose by Mick Thompson