Christmas Bird Count 2017 Summary Report

Redbud Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count Results
Making Sense of the 2016 Numbers

One hundred and twenty-eight species of birds were seen on the Redbud Audubon 2016 Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on Saturday, December 17, 2016. The 128 count is down from the previous 5-year average of 135 birds but considerably higher than the all-time low count of 122 birds tallied in 2003. The 48,957 total number of birds seen, however, was higher than the previous 5-year average of 37,610.

Highlights of the count were the Yellow Warbler and Black-throated Gray Warbler that are considered extremely rare in Lake County in the winter but fairly common the rest of the year.

Again, as in the 2014 CBC report, the sighting considered to be the most unusual was an Iceland Gull, a gull that has been seen only once before in Lake County.

The Ruddy Duck wins the prize for the most individuals tallied with a high of 16,259 outranking the 11,818 Western Grebes, the species that had this distinction for the previous two years. Several species hit record high counts including the Herring Gull with a count of 4,007 outdoing its previous high of 541 in 2015; the Bonaparte’s Gull had a high count of 191 where only 6 were seen the previous year. However, in 2004, the Herring Cull count was 12,508 and the Bonaparte’s Gull was at 4,014.

On the other side of the spectrum, only 1 Golden-crowned Kinglet was seen, a species that is often missed entirely. The European Starling registered a high count of 1,121 an increase from the previous two years; a dismay to birders as the Starling is a non-native species that has a significant negative impact on native cavity nesters that compete for the same nesting sites. We can no longer report that the Brewer’s Blackbirds appear to be diminishing in numbers over the history of the CBC in the County. In 2014, the 257 birds counted was a registered a low. The count for 2016 jumped to 820. The previous 10-year average of this species is 600, a figured remarkably lower than the high count of 2,558 in 1992 at a time when the Brewer’s often garnered 1,000 or more on the CBC. The American Crow was another surprise at a count of 185 down from the past 3-year average of 357.

Forty-two individuals participated in the count, which is down from the average of 52 over the previous 3 years. The Lake County count began in 1975. The previous high was 57 participants in 2014 and the all-time low was only 10 participants in 1993. Nevertheless, those 10 participants found 129 species, still one more species than from this year’s total. Consider this a challenge for next year’s Count!