The late meltdown of winter snow and ice was undoubtedly a big contributor to the lowest numbers of bird species ever seen by participants in the local birdathon’s twenty-year history. The group of nineteen participants who gathered at river’s edge Saturday night found a total of only 47 different species of birds. This contrasts to a high number of 85 species in 2005. Bad weather and visibility Friday night, fewer birder-hours, and poor cross-country traveling conditions may have also contributed to a low species count.
Birders did turn up a few surprises: canvasback ducks at Fish Lake, three Lapland longspurs which spent the day on Barge Drive, and a flock of white-winged crossbills. Though pine grosbeaks can be numerous at feeders in the winter, they are not often found by birders the first week in May. Two females were spotted this year, however.
Missing completely from the list for the only time in twenty years were the American wigeon and Bonaparte’s gull. The yellow-rumped warbler and the arctic tern were listed all years except for this year and one other year. Besides the familiar sounds of many common redpolls, there was very little birdsong, even by the few robins and varied thrushes in the area.
Birders Chris and Barbara Mannix, and Deborah Brocke and Jeff Robinson listed thirty-three species. Robert Ambrose once again turned in the highest “green” birding list, using his own two feet and his bicycle to find thirty-two species. Participants look forward to several more weeks of returning migrants.
Note: Correction to previous version of this story: In between preparations for his wedding and the ceremony, Doug Gualtieri heard a yellow-rumped warbler in Freedom Hills…which brought the group total to 47.