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Christmas Bird Count 2017

By Sharon Cormier-Aagaard

Results of Eastside Audubon’s December 16, 2017 Christmas Bird Count

 The EAS Count Circle

On behalf of Eastside Audubon Society's (EAS) annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), 51 volunteers were tallying outside in our CBC circle and 4 were at home watching backyard feeders on December 16, 2017.  All CBC circles throughout North America and the world are 15 miles in diameter and have a center point.  Ours is at Beaver Lake, in the city of Sammamish, and our circle has 8 sections: Marymoor Park/Ames Lake, West Snoqualmie Valley, East Snoqualmie Valley, Lake Sammamish State Park & Issaquah, West Lake Sammamish Parks, East Lake Sammamish Trail, Sammamish Plateau, and Fall City/Preston.  Several volunteers started before dawn to look for owls; some hiked forest and city park trails; many drove from spot to spot counting birds in parks and neighborhoods. The results will be tallied and submitted to National Audubon for ongoing research on bird population trends and effects of climate change.

Our 34th CBC

This was National Audubon's 118th CBC and EAS's 34th.  Our first was in 1981 (there were no counts in 1982, 1983 and 1989).  As we know, our winter weather can often be wet, windy, and cold, but oh, what a day we had! The day's temperatures ranged from 33-46F, winds were mild at 0-4 mph, skies were cloudy to partly cloudy, some areas had morning fog, some of our ponds were partially frozen, and rivers were flowing.  It was a great day to be outside bird watching!

All the birds we counted

Overall, 96 species were tallied on “count day”, plus an additional 8 “count week” birds (species reported 3 days before or 3 days after, but not seen on Dec 16), for a grand total of 104 species for this year’s CBC.  Our highest count ever was 110 total birds in 2014 (97 count day + 13 count week).  The number of individual birds seen in 2017 was 18,696, about 2,100 birds higher than the 20-year average of 16,562. The highest individual number of birds we have ever counted was 28,674 birds in 1999!

CBC Table

8 Count Week birds

Herring Gull at Lake Sammamish on 12/13, Spotted Sandpiper at Sikes Lake on 12/13, Western Gull on 12/13 at Lake Sammamish, Western Screech Owl at Marymoor on 12/14, Peregrine Falcon at Marymoor on 12/14, Violet-green Swallow at Sikes Lake on 12/14, Northern Harrier at Sikes Lake on 12/14, Tundra Swan at Snoqualmie Valley/SE 19th Way on 12/17.

Owls are always exciting… We tallied 5 different types!

2 Barn Owls (Marymoor), 1 Western Screech-Owl (count week at Marymoor), 1 Great Horned Owl (Ames Lake area), 1 Barred Owl (Phantom Lake) and 1 Northern Saw-whet Owl (Fall City/Preston area). 

First ever species in our CBC

An unexpected winter sighting of a Violet-green Swallow at Sikes Lake on 12/13 (Count Week)

Of note in this category: A Swamp Sparrow was reported on eBird at Sikes Lake and at nearby 80th a couple times before our count week and on 12/21, two days after our count week.  As the saying goes- close, but no cigar.

CBC 2017

Species of note tallied during this CBC:

Greater White-fronted Goose – 1 at Lake Hills

Cackling Goose – 3600 at Marymoor; at total of 5685 for the day

Trumpeter Swan – 323 near Sikes Lake, 406 total for the day

Canvasback – 1 at Lake Sammamish State Park

Eurasian-collared-Dove – 64 this year, 10 in 2016, 73 in 2015

Green Heron – 1 in Issaquah and 1 at Marymoor (1-2 are seen half the time during our CBCs)

Pied-billed Grebe – 60 this year; our highest ever was 96 birds in 2016

Anna’s Hummingbird – our highest ever at 101 birds this year, 73 in 2016, 88 in 2015 – more and more people are keeping their feeders up and full!

American Kestrel, Merlin – 4 each

Northern Shrike—1 in the Fall City area

Hutton's Vireo – 2 birds

Common Raven—20 this year, 26 in 2016

Hermit Thrush – just 1 this year in East Snoqualmie Valley; 3 last year

Pine Siskin – 202 this year; 996 in 2016

Townsend’s Warbler – 1 this year on the East Lake Sammamish Trail; 7 in 2016

White-throated Sparrow – 1 this year at the Lake Sammamish State Park boat launch; last year there were 5, our highest count ever

Birds missed this CBC

Snow Goose; Common Loon; California Scrub-Jay; American Pipit; Savannah Sparrow; Brown-headed Cowbird; No shorebird species this year – seen very infrequently in our CBC area; Iceland Gull (formerly Thayer's Gull) – 1 seen 12/21 at Lake Sammamish State Park, just 2 days after Count Week; Short-eared Owl – 1 was reported in Snoqualmie Valley days before our count week; Gray Jay – we enjoyed tallying them for 9 years in a row (2007-2015), but they've not been heard or seen at the top of Tiger Mountain since our 2015 CBC; Rough-legged Hawk—1 north of Duvall and not in our circle; Western Meadowlark – seen 12/21 at Marymoor, 2 days after count week; Evening Grosbeak – they are pretty much not being reported this year by anyone; we counted 14 in Issaquah in our 2016 CBC; Brewer's Blackbird – not even one at Costco!

Appreciation for all that you do

Thank you to the 12 teams of 51 birders who came outside to volunteer from dawn to dusk, and to the 4 who counted yard birds; to the volunteers who organized, shopped, cooked, and helped with the CBC dinner; to the Corvid Crier webmaster, editors, and article writers; to Tereza for spreadsheets and team packets; to Jan for overall support, data entry, and visual aids; to all the EAS office staff; and to everyone involved in this important, annual event.  You are valued and appreciated!

Our 2018 CBC


Put this date on your calendars for next year's CBC: Saturday, December 15, 2018

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The mission of Eastside Audubon is to protect, preserve and enhance natural ecosystems and our communities for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people.