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Little River Breeding Bird Count

Little River IBA

June 1, 2024

Janice Zepko

The field work for this, the 21st, Little River IBA Count was done in good birding weather.  Friday evening was mild with temps hovering around 70 and west winds less than 5 mph, followed by cool temps in the early morning (a low of 50) and a mild afternoon, warming to a high of 85 with calm winds. Humidity was not a factor this year.

Altogether, there were 9 teams and 13 observers in the field for a total of 83.2 hours.  The hours of effort were the highest in the last 7 years, and well above the Count’s average of 70.7. Steve joined in the count this year after taking a few years off, adding hours of effort and two species to our list for the year.  The total number of species counted was 114, above our average of 110.4.  The number of individuals at 3,291 was the just slightly below average.

Misses of note include Bald Eagle, Acadian Flycatcher (missed the last three years in a row), Golden-crowned Kinglet (5th miss in 21 years, three of those in the last 5 years), Nashville Warbler (only second miss in 21 years), and White-throated Sparrow (missed for the last 4 years, but seen every year before that in decent numbers).

The species coming next had higher numbers in this count than the last, but decline can be seen when compared with the 20-year average.  Recorded in parentheses after each species is the count for this year, followed by last year’s count and finally the 20-year average:  Black-capped Chickadee (63, 54, 86.5), Veery (89, 67, 135.9), Hermit Thrush (12, 6, 21.8), Wood Thrush (28, 16, 44.4), Blackburnian Warbler (36, 24, 52.2), Black-throated Blue Warbler (49, 32, 77.9), and Yellow-rumped Warbler (6, 4, 15.1).  Higher numbers this year compared to last is likely due to better weather, more hours of effort and two more teams in the field.

Species that appear to be doing better, not only compared with last year’s numbers, but also compared to the 20-year average provide a much longer list:  Turkey Vulture (23, 11, 12), Black-billed Cuckoo (5, 1, 1.9), Eastern Kingbird (21, 9, 17.3), Blue-headed Vireo (23, 11, 16), Comon Raven (13, 5, 5.9), Rough-winged Swallow (20, 9, 3.8), Red-breasted Nuthatch (10, 5, 5.8), Brown Creeper (12, 6, 7.2), Winter Wren (12, 8, 7.7), Northern Waterthrush (5, 1, 3.2), Yellow Warbler (68, 41, 46.3), Prairie Warbler (24, 18, 10.1), Chipping Sparrow (102, 55, 73.9), Dark-eyed Junco (10, 1, 4.9), and Song Sparrow (89, 55, 63.3).

Most of us were lucky enough to have a good find or two or more, contributing species to the count that other teams did not observe.  Al & Lois beat us all in that category, with Ring-necked Duck (new to count), American Bittern, Cooper’s Hawk, Virginia Rail and Orchard Oriole. Next, Janice and Gail found Hooded Merganser, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Bank Swallow and White-crowned Sparrow (new to count).  Joanne identified Common Merganser, American Woodcock and Northern Harrier.  Tom gave us Double-crested Cormorant and Ruffed Grouse.  Steve pitched in with two Blue-winged Warblers and a Worm-eating Warbler.  Kathy and Myles spotted an American Kestrel, and John got the only Purple Finch.  Though it feels special to learn you have clinched a bird for the count, territories vary in size and number of differing habitats, so the important thing is to get out there, find all the birds you can, and let them magically lift your spirits.

Click below to view or download complete count results.

2024 June Count Results