Saturday, December 20, 2014

My First Christmas Bird Count!

It's my first day of a long break from working!  Whoo hoo!  I didn't have any plans until later in the day, so I thought I'd try to join in on a Christmas Bird Count last-minute.  Two emails later, I was signed up to participate on the Millis Christmas Bird Count!

This year is the 115th annual Christmas Bird Count, which began in 1900.  It all started when Frank Chapman wanted an alternative to a Christmas recreational hunt, where teams of people went out and competed to see who could kill the largest number of birds and animals.   That hunting tradition has gone by the wayside (thank goodness), and the Christmas Bird Count, at least with birders, has grown into a very popular replacement.  People hunt with binoculars, cameras, pen and paper, or smart phones in a designated 15 mile radius.

My Millis team of four came up with a healthy 30 species, starting around 8AM and finishing around 1:30PM. We also count the number of individuals within each species, so the results provide good citizen science data.

We only had sunshine for a couple of hours.  It averaged 30 degrees.

  1. American Crow
  2. American Goldfinch
  3. American Robin
  4. American Tree Sparrow
  5. Black-Capped Chickadee
  6. Blue Jay
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Carolina Wren
  9. Coopers Hawk
  10. Dark-Eyed Junco
  11. Downy Woodpecker
  12. Eastern Bluebird
  13. European Starling
  14. Golden-Crowned Kinglet
  15. Hairy Woodpecker
  16. Herring Gull
  17. House Finch
  18. House Sparrow
  19. Mallard
  20. Mourning Dove
  21. Mute Swan
  22. Northern Cardinal 
  23. Northern Flicker
  24. Northern Mockingbird
  25. Red-Bellied Woodpecker
  26. Red-Tailed Hawk
  27. Rock Pigeon
  28. Song Sparrow
  29. Tufted Titmouse
  30. White Breasted Nuthatch
Here are some of the birds I was able to photograph from the count:

Eastern Bluebird 
(We saw them in several locations.)

 Dark-Eyed Junco (our most abundant species)

House Finch (making the most of the sun while it was out)

Golden Crowned Kinglet (best bird of the day)

(Mostly in the open...darn that twig) - See his golden crown?)

On my way home, and not part of the count, I stopped at Hopkinton State Park to check out the water.  Besides 8 mallards, there was one diving duck.  I think it is a female Common Goldeneye.

 Common Goldeneye (female)

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