Record tallied in bird count
A bald eagle was among the record-breaking 77 species tallied Saturday at the 30th annual winter bird count. Also setting a high mark was the number of birders participating: 21 volunteers observed in the field, and four others reported sightings from their home feeders.
According to organizers, the day was perfect, with sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 30s. By noon, the group counted 69 species – seven short of the record set in 2011 – but following lunch, birders discovered eight more. Among them were a rufous hummingbird, considered the feistiest hummingbird, which is typical of the western United States, rare to the East Coast; a white-winged crossbill, a finch that frequents the Northeast during the winter that was absent from last year’s bird count; and the bald eagle, the country’s national bird that was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. It was seen flying over North Reservoir.
Other species of note included a Barrow’s goldeneye, seen at both the north and south ends of Conanicut Island’s east coast, razorbills at Beavertail, and a spotted sandpiper seen at both Mackerel Cove and Beavertail. Absent this year was the purple sandpiper (23 were spotted in last year’s winter bird count) and eastern bluebirds that were recently seen at Godena Farm.
The award for the best bird spotted by noon went to Linda Vanderveer, who discovered a barred owl at Watson Farm. Other field participants were Linda Gardrel, Wayne Munns, Bill Levin, Laurie Martin, Evelyn Rhodes, Ed Long, B.J. Whitehouse, Chris and Candy Powell, Margie Hemp, Hilary Salk, Jack Kelly, Meaghan Shaffer, Rey Larsen, Marcie Lindsay, Ed Dettmann, Dick Boenning, and Peter and Tim Fay, Those reporting from home were Gail Chase, Linda Flinton, Josy Wright and Katie Grimes.
The 77 species were the redthroated loon, 7; common loon, 11; horned grebe, 13; red-necked grebe, 1; northern gannet, 5; great cormorant, 2; double-crested cormorant, 2; great blue heron, 2; brant, 102; Canada goose, 807; American black duck, 54; mallard, 184; gadwall, 4; greater scaup, 1; common eider, 289; harlequin duck, 24; and the black scoter, 4.
Also, the white-winged scoter, 1; surf scoter, 4; common goldeneye, 62; Barrow’s goldeneye, 1; bufflehead, 44; hooded merganser, 17; red-breasted merganser, 39; ruddy duck, 4; bald eagle, 1; northern harrier, 2; sharp-shinned hawk, 2; Cooper’s hawk, 2; redtailed hawk, 4; American kestrel, 1; merlin, 1; and the peregrine falcon, 2.
Also, the kildeer, 6; spotted sandpiper, 1; Bonaparte’s gull, 6; ring-billed gull, 15; herring gull, 252; greater black-backed gull, 6; razorbill, 7; rock pigeon, 21; mourning dove, 46; great horned owl, 1; barred owl, 1; rufous hummingbird, 1; belted kingfisher, 1; red-bellied woodpecker, 7; downy woodpecker, 18; and the hairy woodpecker, 1.
Also, the northern flicker, 6; blue jay, 24; American crow, 77; raven, 1; black-capped chickadee, 66; tufted titmouse, 21; whitebreasted nuthatch, 11; Carolina wren, 17; winter wren, 3; goldencrowned kinglet, 7; hermit thrush, 2; American robin, 159; northern mockingbird, 12; starling, 254; American pipit, 12; and the cedar waxwing, 3.
Also, the northern cardinal, 28; tree sparrow, 11; Savannah sparrow, 12; song sparrow, 65; swamp sparrow, 1; white-throated sparrow, 55; dark-eyed junco, 23; snow bunting, 3; house finch, 46; white-winged crossbill, 1; American goldfinch, 2; and the house sparrow, 54.