by Sue Deyoe ~ January 4th, 2011
COMMON REDPOLL – normally redpolls are seen in abundance, however, this year only 40 were counted on count day.
photo courtesy of Doug Gualiteri
There were 33 participants in this year’s annual Audubon Christmas Bird count in the Trapper Creek and Talkeetna area. The bird count celebrated its 18th year locally, although nationwide, the count was in its 111th year. This year, compiler Rick Ernst chose January 2nd as the count day. He reported a high of 34 degrees and said there were a couple of new participants this year. New bird watchers are always welcome, he says.
Black capped chickadees were at the top of the list with 498 spotted, the highest count in any of the past 18 years. The average number over the last 18 years is 288.
Raven sightings were at an all time high of 40. The average over the years is 11. An unusually large amount of black billed magpies were seen as well. That number this year was 75 and the average over the years is 40.
Normally, an average of 200 redpolls are spotted, but this year, only 40 were seen.
16 species were sighted this year and a total of 848 birds. That is about average, according to Ernst. Although not seen on count day, a merlin, a sharp shinned hawk and a three toed woodpecker were spotted within the count week.
There were no new species to the list sighted, although two birders spotted a couple of mosquitoes on the very warm 34-degree day.
The bird count is the largest citizen science based count done worldwide. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations.