2017 New Haven Christmas Count Results

The 118th Annual New Haven Christmas Bird Count Summary

On December 16th, 2017, Seventy six members and friends of the New Haven Bird Club set out to record all of the birds within the boundaries of the New Haven Christmas Count circle.  As is often the case, weather played a prominent role in the outcome of the census. Often, the weather on the day of the count plays an important role in the count (as it did last year when we endured snow and rain).  This year, the count day was mostly sunny and unusually cold, with a moderate northerly wind.  In the days leading up to the count, it was cold and snowy. This led to the freezing of much of the still water in the interior portions of the count and the covering of the ground and trails throughout the area.  So, birds that prefer fresh water were less plentiful and hiking was slower and more deliberate.

One of the important aspects of the Christmas Count is to recognize trends in the populations of the bird species that we are observing.  Some notable results of this year’s count included low numbers of Mute Swan, American Black Duck, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Field Sparrow, and House Finch. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and White-breasted Nuthatch were seen in all-time high numbers.  Irruptive species from the north were almost entirely absent, as there is a bumper crop of conifer seeds in the boreal forest this year. We recorded only one Red-breasted Nuthatch, two Purple Finches and no other “winter finches.”

Rarities found on the count included: Cackling Duck in Woodbridge, Common Eider, American Oystercatcher, and Snowy Owl, all at Brazos Road in East Haven (clearly the hot spot for the count period, there was even a Barrow’s Goldeneye observed there on the day following the count), Red-necked Grebe in Lake Saltonstall, Clay-colored Sparrow in Woodbridge, and Lincoln’s Sparrow in North Branford.  Other notable finds were: Snow Goose, Canvasback, Northern Gannet, Black-crowned Night-heron, Clapper Rail, Virginia Rail, Dunlin, American Woodcock, Iceland Gull, Eastern Phoebe, Marsh Wren, Brown Thrasher, Snow Bunting, and Orange-crowned Warbler (during count week).

The ten most abundant species seen on our count (in descending order) were: Canada Goose, European Starling, Ring-billed Gull, Common Grackle, House Sparrow, Mallard, Brant, Herring Gull, Greater Scaup, and Rock Pigeon.  It is interesting (and perhaps a bit disturbing?) that three of these species are non-native or introduced species.  Overall, we counted nearly 27,000 individual birds in our count circle on count day; an impressive number to be sure, but well below our 20-year average of ~ 40,000 individuals.

The final results were (with rare birds in boldface): Snow Goose, 10; Brant, 1306; Cackling Goose, 1; Canada Goose, 3680; Mute Swan, 68; Wood Duck, 12; Gadwall, 125; American Wigeon, 139; American Black Duck, 253; Mallard, 1312; Northern Pintail, 6; Green-winged Teal, 41; Canvasback, 3; Ring-necked Duck, 81; Greater Scaup, 922; Lesser Scaup, 22; Common Eider, 1; Surf Scoter, 7; White-winged Scoter, 6; Long-tailed Duck, 120; Bufflehead, 254; Common Goldeneye, 117; Barrow’s Goldeneye, CW; Hooded Merganser, 321; Common Merganser, 48; Red-breasted Merganser, 53; Ruddy Duck, 15; Wild Turkey, 45; Red-throated Loon, 24; Common Loon, 33; Pied-billed Grebe, 15; Horned Grebe, 8; Red-necked Grebe, 1; Northern Gannet, 2; Great Blue Heron, 24; Black-crowned Night-heron, 1; Black Vulture, 29; Turkey Vulture, 56; Northern Harrier, 17; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 14; Cooper’s Hawk, 18; Bald Eagle, 15; Red-shouldered Hawk, 13; Red-tailed Hawk, 96; Clapper Rail, 2; Virginia Rail, 1; American Coot, 6; American Oystercatcher, 1; Black-bellied Plover, CW; Killdeer, 5; Ruddy Turnstone, 2; Sanderling, 121; Dunlin, 1; Purple Sandpiper, 26; American Woodcock, 2; Ring-billed Gull, 1502; Herring Gull, 1257; Iceland Gull, 1; Great Black-backed Gull, 53; Rock Pigeon, 886; Mourning Dove, 467; Eastern Screech Owl, 23; Great Horned Owl, 7; Snowy Owl, 1; Belted Kingfisher, 17; Red-bellied Woodpecker, 112; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 23; Downy Woodpecker, 150; Hairy Woodpecker, 21; Northern Flicker, 39; Pileated Woodpecker, 7; American Kestrel, 1; Merlin, 7; Peregrine Falcon, 3; Monk Parakeet, 7; Eastern Phoebe, 1; Blue Jay, 415; American Crow, 607; Fish Crow, 241; crow, sp., 204; Common Raven, 19; Horned Lark, 15; Black-capped Chickadee, 216; Tufted Titmouse, 220; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 1; White-breasted Nuthatch, 219; Brown Creeper, 6; Winter Wren, 8; Marsh Wren, 1; Carolina Wren, 71; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 34; Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 4; Eastern Bluebird, 41; Hermit Thrush, 6; American Robin, 654; Gray Catbird, 7; Brown Thrasher, 1; Northern Mockingbird, 78; European Starling, 3638; American Pipit, 16; Cedar Waxwing, 137; Snow Bunting, 7; Orange-crowned Warbler, CW, Yellow-rumped Warbler, 9; American Tree Sparrow, 38; Clay-colored Sparrow, 1; Field Sparrow, 8; Fox Sparrow, 17; Dark-eyed Junco, 498; White-throated Sparrow, 681; Savannah Sparrow, 16; Song Sparrow, 440; Lincoln’s Sparrow, 1; Swamp Sparrow, 31; Eastern Towhee, 1; Northern Cardinal, 285; Red-winged Blackbird, 413; Rusty Blackbird, 14; Common Grackle, 1447; Brown-headed Cowbird, 127; House Finch, 186; Purple Finch, 2; American Goldfinch, 283; House Sparrow, 1439.  Total Individuals: 26, 896.  Total Species: 121 + 3 CW.

The participants were (with area captains in boldface): Marian Aimesbury, Dewitt Allen, Ralph Amodei, Margaret Ardwin, Christin Arnini, Mark Aronson, Dan Barvir, Bill Batsford, Larry Bausher, Andy Brand, Stephen Broker, Lauren Brown, Cheryl Cape, Stephanie Cape-May, Michael Carpenter, Nancy Clark, Louisa Cunningham, John Farley, Michael Ferrari, Bobbie Fisher, Corrie Folsom-O’Keefe, Frank Gallo, Alfred Green, Ed Haesche, Stacy Hanks, Michael Hanson, Michael and Pat Horn, Christine Howe, James Hunter, Deborah Johnson, Kris Johnson, Lynn Jones, Tom Kelly, Pat Leahy, Carol and Gary Lemmon, Donna Lorello, Chris Loscalzo, Pat Maturo, Steve Mayo, Flo McBride, Dan Mercurio, Linda Meyer, Robert Mitchell, Judy Moore, Gina Nichol, Genevieve Nuttall, Michael O’Brien, John Oshlick, Karen Pendergast, Frank and Nancy Ragusa, Laurie Reynolds, Jason Rieger, Brian Roach, William Root, Nancy Rosenbaum, Jeff Severino, Arthur Shippee, James Sirch, Paul Smith, Nancy Specht, Charla and Steve Spector, Howie Sternberg, Maria Stockmal, Charles Strasser, Jennifer Triana, John Triana, Marianne Vahey, Tom Vrabel, Chris Woerner, Maureen and Paul Wolter, and George Zepko.

Thanks to all of the participants!

Chris Loscalzo,
NH CBC Compiler

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