NAAS Christmas Bird Count 2016/2017


Editor Note: The following CBC summary was submitted by the coordinators and prepared by Jeff Tanner)

NAAS members participated in Audubon’s 2016 Christmas Bird Count. The  CBC is the longest running citizen science bird project. We have five CBC “circles” in our area: Mormon Lake, Flagstaff: Mt. Elden, Sedona, Jerome, and Camp Verde.

The Mormon Lake CBC, coordinated by Terry Blows, was held December 17, in temperatures of 32-36 degrees. Thirteen participants on four teams logged a decade-high total of 49 species, including two new species: Common Loon and American Avocet. This was the first count in several years in which Upper Laker Mary and Ashurst Lake had open water, however there were few birds on the water.

The Flagstaff: Mt. Elden CBC, also coordinated by Terry, was held December 31, in temperatures of 32-38 degrees. Twenty-two participants on four teams logged a total of 67 species, including one new species: Cackling Goose. The species total is about average for this count. Four other people served as feeder watchers. The most notable omission was Ring-necked Duck, which was absent for the first time since 1984. A count week Summer Tanager was a big surprise. The count week includes the three days before and after the day of the CBC.

The Sedona CBC, coordinated by Rich Armstrong, was held December 14. Forty-one participants on 11 teams, plus seven feeder watchers, found 116 species, down from last year’s record of 120. Highlights were a Ring-billed Gull (new to the Sedona CBC), three Pacific Wrens, Grasshopper Sparrow, Common Black-hawk, Merlin, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Eastern Meadowlark, Least Sandpiper, Green Heron, Plumbeous Vireo, Cinnamon Teal, White-winged Dove, and White-throated Sparrow. Also, an Eurasian Wigeon and Waterthrush species were included in the count week. The count totaled about 11,360 birds, with record high numbers of Eurasian Collared Doves (170), Ladder-backed Woodpeckers (55), American Crows (37), Bridled Titmice (58), House Wrens (6), Bewick’s Wrens (85), Ruby-crowned Kinglets (251), and Lincoln’s Sparrows (41). Surprise misses were Lesser Scaup, Northern Pintail, Common Goldeneye, Redhead, Hooded Merganser, Black-crowned Night Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, Wilson’s Snipe, Pine Siskin, and Brown-headed Cowbird, although some of these were included in the count week.

The Jerome CBC, coordinated by Julie Wills, was held December 18. Thirty people on seven teams, and one feeder watcher, found 112 species and 7,891 birds. There was no snow or rain on the count day, and for the first time in four years, the Mingus Mountain sector did not have to deal with snow. The count produced two new count species: Red Crossbill and Olive Warbler, and many other uncommon species: Red-breasted Sapsucker, American Redstart, Swainson’s Thrush, Grasshopper Sparrow, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Pacific Wren, and Golden Eagle. Surprisingly, no Northern Mockingbirds or Wood Ducks were counted.

Thirty-three birders participated in the Camp Verde CBC, coordinated by Holly Kleindienst, on January 2, 2017. The eight teams and three feeder watchers experienced damp and gray weather, atypical for the count circle.  Muddy roads and high water at stream crossings prevented access to many areas, and in some sectors even the usual the birds were just hunkered down, and not to be seen. Not surprisingly, the number of species counted decreased from 107 last year down to 101 this year. Notably absent this year were Snow Goose, Ross’s Goose, Canvasback, Redhead, Double-crested Cormorant, Hutton’s Vireo, Horned Lark, Marsh Wren, Sage Thrasher, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and Black-chinned Sparrow.  On the flip side, the circle tallied 10,500 total birds, about 200 more than last year, and seven species that were not seen last year! Highlights were the two Rufous-backed Robins in a backyard in Lake Montezuma (count week), a Gray Catbird in Clear Creek Camp Campground (count week), and the first ever gull species for the circle.  Other notable birds include  Ferruginous Hawk (2), Inca Dove (6), and a White-throated Sparrow. the count is known, they’ll have to admit that even a bad day of birding in the middle of winter in Camp Verde still yields lots of great birds!