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Christmas Bird Count lists 34 species

Northwoods Notebook

A dozen pileated woodpeckers were included locally in the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count. (Betsy Bloom/Daily News photo)

Unexpected raptors provided several highlights for local participants in the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count that took place Dec. 19.

A golden eagle, rough-legged hawk and sharp-shinned hawk were among the noteworthy sightings, said Phyllis Carlson, coordinator of the local count. While all can occur in the region, they don’t reliably show up at the right time to be included in the tally.

Other birds not always found during the count included trumpeter swans, snow buntings and “one lone red-winged blackbird with a bad wing that is hanging out with a group of starlings,” Carlson said in her report.

In all, 29 observers — 22 monitoring feeders and seven in the field — recorded a total of 34 species and 1,543 individual birds, compared with 27 species and 958 birds in 2019 and 26 and 868 in 2018.

However, even with the heavy influx of winter grosbeaks this season, the only ones seen were pine grosbeaks; evening grosbeaks were absent for the count period, though they have been widely reported in the area, Carlson said. Four house finches and three purple finches turned up, along with a single pine sisken.

Another unusual absence: Owls, even though Carlson said, “I had a pair of great horned owls calling for weeks prior to the count but on the day of the count they were silent.” No species of geese made the count, either.

The National Audubon Society uses data from the annual Christmas Bird Count to monitor bird migrations and population fluctuations.

If the local count is any indication, pileated woodpeckers and mourning doves are on the upswing, Carlson said.

Leading the tally were 243 mourning doves, 205 European starlings and 203 wild turkeys. A dozen pileated woodpeckers were spotted, along with 18 red-bellied woodpeckers.

Perhaps some of the missing birds will turn up later in the winter in time for the Great Backyard Bird Count — a global event sponsored not only by Audubon but also the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada — set for Feb. 12-15. Unlike the Christmas Bird Count, this event accepts counts from individual participants rather than just from one designated coordinator in a set area.

For more information on taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, go to www.birdcount.org.

Betsy Bloom can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 240, or bbloom@ironmountaindailynews.com.

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