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Cobble Mtn Christmas Count

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December 21, 2020

Janice Zepko

This was our 30th year of participation as Cobble Mtn Circle in National Audubon’s Christmas Count.  Many thanks for all those counters who have stayed the course, braving the early morning cold temperatures and a myriad of weather conditions over the years.

The following is a brief rundown of how we did this year compared to past years, though it will not be as eloquent as when Seth was at the helm.  There were several species found in higher numbers than usual.  Any averages mentioned are 30-year averages.  Canada Goose (2621) was the second highest number of individuals recorded in any year.  Hooded Merganser (31) was well above the average of 10 birds.  The year 2004 was the last and only other time the number for Raven reached as high as 19 individuals.  Field Sparrow was identified in 20 of 30 years, but only topped this year’s number (7) by one bird in 1991 on our first Cobble Mtn Count.

There were more species found in lower than usual numbers.  Black Duck (4), with an average of 54, was a disappointment.  There were only two other years that the total was in the single digits.  We only counted 9 Ring-billed Gulls, and while the average is 136, the numbers are all over the place year to year.  Also, low was Downy Woodpecker at 35, where our average is 70.  Golden-crowned Kinglet had several years of very high numbers swinging the average up to 30, but we almost missed it altogether this year, counting only one.  Waxwings (3) and Goldfinch (44) had the lowest counts in 30 years.  Tree Sparrow at 19 was the second lowest count ever.
We had many extra good finds this year.  Green-winged Teal (1) was only seen in two other counts. Black Vulture (1) was identified in only one other year, 2009.  Winter Wren (1) only shows up in three other years.  The first time counted in the last five years were Savannah Sparrow (1), Swamp Sparrow (2) and Purple Finch (6).  Finally, White-crowned Sparrow (1) has not been on the list since 2006.

Unfortunate misses this year were Cooper’s Hawk, counted each previous year going back to 1996, Herring and Great Black-backed Gull, Screech, Barred and Great Horned Owls (more effort needed predawn), and Horned Lark, which we counted in each of the previous six years.
Count week birds added by Dorrie Holmes were Evening Grosbeak and Saw-whet Owl in Granville, and Bufflehead on Congamond.  Hermit Thrush was identified by Katie Doe (nonmember) in Stanley Park.

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2020 Cobble Mtn Christmas Count